Egypts new constitution approved by almost 64 of voters officials

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Those official results tallied with figures given by President Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood immediately after the last round of polling at the weekend in the two-stage referendum.

The “yes” vote paves the way for a parliamentary election in about two months, setting the stage for yet another electoral battle between surging Islamists and their fractious liberal and leftist opponents.

The National Salvation Front opposition coalition, however, has already dismissed the plebiscite as “only one battle” and vowed to “continue the fight for the Egyptian people.”

That sets the scene for continued instability after more than a month of protests, some of them violent, including clashes on Dec. 5 that killed eight people and injured hundreds.

Samir Abul Maati, the president of the national electoral commission, told a Cairo news conference late Tuesday that turnout was 32.9 percent.

He added that opposition allegations of fake judges supervising some of the polling were unfounded.

The opposition, which has seized on the low turnout to challenge the legitimacy of the charter, appeared to be ready to accept the official results.

Front leader Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace laureate and former chief of the U.N. atomic energy agency, admitted to the U.S. network PBS on Monday that the referendum “is going to pass.”

“But it's a really sad day in my view for Egypt, because it is going to institutionalize instability,” he said.

ElBaradei said the new charter should be treated as “an interim one” until another is written up on the basis of consensus.

The opposition argues that the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi groups that backed the charter want to use some of its ambiguous language to slip in sharia-style strict Islamic law.

The text, which was written by a panel dominated by Islamists, has been criticized for weakening women's rights and other rights by the opposition and by the United Nation's human rights chief.

The Muslim Brotherhood counters that the constitution is a needed step to restoring stability.

The low turnout, though, confounded the Brotherhood's public predictions for the past month that voters would give greater support.

“Anything less than 70 percent would not be good,” Amr Darrag, a senior member of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party who helped draft the constitution, told AFP on December 2.

Attention is now turning to legislative elections which Egypt has to hold by the end of February. The previous parliament was dissolved in June by Egypt's constitutional court.

Morsi has ordered the senate, which currently handles all legislative business, to convene on Wednesday, the official MENA news agency said.

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