98.1pc 'yes' vote for Egypt's military-backed constitution

Interim leaders see referendum as chance to gauge support for overthrow of Mursi

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 January, 2014, 6:16am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 January, 2014, 6:16am


Egypt's election committee said voters have overwhelmingly approved a new, military-backed constitution in the first vote since a coup toppled the country's president.

The head of the supreme election committee, Nabil Salib, said 98.1 per cent of voters backed the new constitution.

Egypt's High Election Commission said yesterday that 38.6 per cent of the country's more than 53 million eligible voters took part in the two-day poll. Officials say 20.6 million voters cast ballots, with some 20.3 million votes counted after eliminating those voided.

This is the first vote since the military removed Egypt's first freely elected president, Mohammed Mursi, following massive protests in July.

Officials view the vote as key in legitimising the country's military-backed interim government and its plan for parliamentary and presidential elections.

But Mursi's supporters and his outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group boycotted the vote and have alleged the results were forged.

The Brotherhood has vowed to keep up their near-daily protests.

Clashes between police and Islamists killed at least three people on Friday, as the country awaited the results of the poll.

Mursi's Islamist supporters faced off with police firing tear gas in several cities, security officials said.

Two men were killed in Cairo and another in clashes in Fayoum, southwest of the capital, the health ministry said, as police clamped down in what has become a weekly ritual during a massive crackdown on pro-Mursi protests.

In Cairo's Alf Maskan area, demonstrators aimed fireworks at police, who ran for cover when they heard bursts of automatic gunfire from the protesters' side. A policeman fired an assault rifle in the protesters' direction.

The interior ministry said police arrested 123 suspected protesters in Cairo and other cities.

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

Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse