Egypt: over 98% voted for new constitution

The referendum is a key step in the interim government‘s political roadmap

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More than 98 percent of Egyptians voted “yes” for a new constitution in a referendum, authorities said on Saturday.

The turnout was lower than some officials had predicted, with just over a third of the electorate taking part.

Voters supported the constitution by 98.1 percent, said the head of the supreme election committee, Nabil Salib.

A total of 38.6 percent of eligible voters took part, he told reporters.

On Thursday, an Interior Ministry official said the turnout appeared to be more than 55 percent in what was the first vote since the toppling of Islamist President Mohammed Mursi in July.

Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood had called for anti-government protests and a boycott of last week’s vote, seeing it as part of a coup against the country‘s freely-elected leader.

The referendum is a key step in the political transition plan the interim government has billed as a path to democracy, even as it presses a fierce crackdown on the Brotherhood.

An Egyptian newspaper on Saturday reported that Egypt's interim President Adly Mansour will announce that presidential elections will be held in March.

Al Tahrir newspaper quoted Essam Eddine Abdel Aziz, first deputy to the head of the State Council, as saying that President Mansour will call on Egyptians to take part in presidential elections.

Meanwhile, the United States Saturday called on Egypt to fully implement the rights guaranteed under its newly approved constitution.

“As Egypt’s transition proceeds, the United States urges the interim Egyptian government to fully implement those rights and freedoms that are guaranteed in the new constitution for the benefit of the Egyptian people, and to take steps towards reconciliation,” Agence France-Presse quoted U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry as saying in a statement.

On Friday, at least four people were killed in clashes between Brotherhood supporters and police across the country.

One man was killed by a gunshot wound to the neck in the city of Fayoum, south of Cairo, a local health ministry official told Reuters.

Three people were killed in clashes in the Cairo area, the security sources said. Two were shot and the circumstances of the other death were unclear.

Supporters of the Brotherhood also clashed with security forces in the city of Suez, MENA reported, as well as in Ismailia and a number of locations in the capital, security sources said.

(With Reuters and AFP)

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