Egypt's opposition will appeal against result of referendum on constitution
National Salvation Front says violations and polling fraud skewed the result
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Egypt's opposition said yesterday it will appeal against the result of a referendum, in which voters approved a new constitution backed by ruling Islamists but for which the turnout was low.
The opposition vowed to keep up a struggle that has spawned weeks of protests and damaging instability.
Polling "fraud and violations" skewed the results of the two-stage referendum, the final leg of which was held on Saturday, the National Salvation Front said.
"We are asking the [electoral] commission to investigate the irregularities before announcing official results," scheduled for today, a Front member, Amr Hamzawy, told a Cairo news conference.
Another member, Abdel Ghaffer Shokr said: "The referendum is not the end of the road. It is only one battle. We will continue the fight for the Egyptian people."
State media and President Mohammed Mursi's supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood said the constitution was passed with nearly two-thirds support, based on unofficial tallies.
According to the Brotherhood tally based on results from individual polling stations and voting abroad, 64 per cent of the 16.6 million voters who cast ballots approved the constitution.
But the comparatively low turnout of 32 per cent of eligible voters, as well as allegations by the opposition of voting violations, threatened to undermine the constitution's legitimacy and keep Egypt polarised.
Opposition to the charter fuelled demonstrations for the past month, some of them violent, such as clashes that wounded 62 people in the second city of Alexandria on Friday, the day before the final round of voting.
The army has deployed troops to reinforce police since December 5 clashes outside the presidential palace in Cairo killed eight people and injured more than 600.
Mursi and Islamists backing the charter say it is necessary to restore stability after the revolution early last year that toppled Hosni Mubarak.
But the opposition sees the new constitution as a wedge to usher in creeping Islamic law through a weakening of human rights, particularly those for women, and undermine the independence of the judiciary. It accuses Mursi of steamrolling through the referendum without consensus on the charter.
Approval of the constitution would trigger parliamentary elections in two months to replace an Islamist-dominated assembly that was dissolved by Egypt's constitutional court before Mursi's election in June.
In a gesture towards "national dialogue", Mursi on Saturday appointed 90 additional senators, including eight women and 12 Christians.
The US government, which sees Egypt as a pillar of its Middle East policy and provides Cairo with US$1.3 billion annually in military aid, has deliberately avoided public comment on the crisis.
Additional reporting by Associated Press