Egypt's disputed charter headed toward approval
BY HAMZA HENDAWI & SARAH EL DEEB Associated Press
Sunday, December 23, 2012
12/23/12 at 5:58 AM
Egypt's draft constitution received a "yes" majority in a final round of voting, but the deep divisions it has opened up threaten to fuel continued turmoil.
Passage is a victory for President Mohammed Morsi but a costly one. The bruising battle over the past month stripped away hope that the long-awaited constitution would bring a national consensus on the path Egypt will take after shedding its autocratic ruler Hosni Mubarak nearly two years ago.
Instead, Morsi disillusioned many non-Islamists who had once backed him and has become more reliant on his core support in the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists. Hard-liners in his camp are determined to implement provisions for stricter rule by Islamic law in the charter, which is likely to further fuel divisions.
Saturday's voting in 17 of Egypt's 27 provinces was the second and final round of the referendum. Preliminary results released early Sunday by Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood showed that 71.4 percent of those who voted Saturday said "yes" after 95.5 percent of the ballots were counted.
In the first round of voting, about 56 percent said "yes" to the charter.
Morsi's liberal and secular opposition, in turn, faces the task of trying to organize the significant portion of the population angered by what they see as attempts by Morsi and the Brotherhood to gain a lock on political power. The main opposition group, the National Salvation Front, said it would now start rallying for elections for the next lawmaking, lower house of parliament, expected early next year.
"We feel more empowered because of the referendum. We proved that at least we are half of society (that) doesn't approve of all this. We will build on it," the Front's spokesman, Khaled Daoud, said. Still, he said, there was "no appetite" at the moment for further street protests.
The new constitution would come into effect once official results are announced, expected in several days.
In a sign of disarray in Morsi's administration, his vice president and - possibly - the central bank governor resigned during Saturday's voting. Vice President Mahmoud Mekki's resignation had been expected since his post is eliminated under the new constitution. But its hasty submission even before the charter has been sealed suggested it was linked to Morsi's policies.
Original Print Headline: Egypt's charter heads to OK
An Egyptian man shows his inked fingers after casting his vote on a disputed constitution. KHALIL HAMRA / Associated Press