December 23, 2012

Egyptian voters approve disputed charter

The constitution's passage will be a costly victory for Egypt's Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi.

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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A man votes while other voters perform the noon prayers at a gym used as a polling station in the second round of a referendum on a disputed constitution in Giza, Egypt, on Saturday.

The Associated Press

Over the past month, seven of Morsi’s 17 top advisers and the one Christian among his top four aides resigned. Like Mekki, they said they had never been consulted in advance on any of the president’s moves, including his Nov. 22 decrees, since rescinded, that granted himself near absolute powers.
Those decrees sparked large street protests by hundreds of thousands around the country, bringing counter-rallies by Islamists.

The turmoil was further fueled with a Constituent Assembly almost entirely made up of Islamists finalized the constitution draft in the dead of night amid a boycott by liberals and Christians. Rallies turned violent. Brotherhood offices were attacked, and Islamists attacked an opposition sit-in outside the presidential palace in Cairo leading to clashes that left 10 dead.

The turmoil opened up a vein of bitterness that the polarizing constitution will do little to close. Morsi opponents accused him of seeking to create a new Mubarak-style autocracy. The Brotherhood accused his rivals of being former Mubarak officials trying to topple an elected president and return to power. Islamists branded opponents “infidels” and vowed they will never accept anything but “God’s law” in Egypt.

Both rounds of voting saw claims by the opposition and rights groups of voting violations. On Saturday, they said violations ranged from polling stations opening late to Islamists seeking to influence voters to say “yes.” The official MENA news agency said at least two judges have been removed for coercing voters to cast “yes” ballots.

The opposition’s talk of now taking the contest to the parliamentary elections represented a shift in the conflict – an implicit gamble that the opposition can try to compete under rules that the Islamists have set.

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