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Egypt passes new constitution

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Controversial constitution approved, despite reports of voting violations

The Egyptian constitution was officially passed on Tuesday, as the official count of the constitutional referendum was announced by the High Elections Committee. The result was a 63.8 per cent margin of support for the constitution.  According to the official tally, 10,693,911 Egyptians voted for the constitution.

Only 17,058,317 million out of the 51,919,067 million eligible Egyptian residents and expatriates voters, or 34 per cent, went to the polls.

During a press conference, Judge Samir Abu El-Ma’aty, head of the Supreme Electoral Committee (SEC), announced the results, assuring that the members of the SEC were chosen because of their efficiency, not for who they are.

He categorized common public complaints in four ways: lack of judicial supervision, observers’ inability to access polling stations, delay in sub-stations, and incorrect electoral procedures.

Abu El-Ma’aty said that all complaints filed against the referendum process were thoroughly investigated and dismissed, particularly those claiming that not all ballot stations were supervised by judges, saying, “There was complete judicial supervision.”

He also added that all stations that closed down before 11 pm were not included in the official tally. “Our main concern was to make sure that each vote was heard.” This brought the total number of votes tallied to 16,755,012, a difference of 303,395.

While more than two-thirds of voters approved the constitution, opponents of the referendum argued that the results have been tainted and the low voter turnout does little to add credibility to the result.

The National Salvation Front (NSF), the largest opposition bloc in Egypt, recorded over 700 different violations leading up to and during the second phase of voting while the National Council for Women reported 600 incidents of voting violations during both phases of the referendum. In a press conference held on Tuesday, the National Council for Human Rights declared they had documented more violations than any other organization, but did not release a figure.

In an earlier interview, the Freedom and Justice Party spokesperson Mohamed Soudan dismissed these contentions as being marginal issues with no tangible effect on the result. According to Soudan, the largest voting violation occurred in Nagaa Hammadi when former National Democratic Party members blocked the road.

Regarding the low voter turnout, Soudan dismissed it by saying it could not be compared to the parliamentary or presidential elections, both of which had higher turnouts. “Either people were determined to vote yes or no in the constitution or they were careless because they thought if they do not vote they could not be blamed for the result,” he explained.

“The highest turnout is for Parliamentary elections then the Presidential elections and then the referendum,” Soudan said, adding that the trend “is very normal, especially in the context of the Egyptian culture.”

About the authors

Luiz Sanchez

Luiz Sanchez

Journalist

Luiz is a Brazilian journalist in Cairo @luizdaVeiga

Sara Abou Bakr

Politics editor at Daily News Egypt Twitter: @sara_ab5


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