Egypt has adopted a new, Islamist-backed constitution with nearly two-thirds support in a referendum preceded by weeks of sometimes bloody protests, official media said yesterday.
Egypt’s opposition said yesterday that it would appeal the results, claiming that voting was riddled with “fraud and violations.”
“The referendum is not the end of the road. It is only one battle,” the statement said, read by National Salvation Front member Abdel Ghaffer Shokr at a Cairo news conference. “We will continue the fight for the Egyptian people.”
Another Front member, Amr Hamzawy, said: “We are asking the [electoral] commission to investigate the irregularities before announcing official results.”
“Our struggle is peaceful to bring down an invalid constitution” by having the commission recognize the alleged fraud and low turnout, Hamzawy said.
Official results are due today after the second and final round of voting on Saturday.
Unofficial tallies given by state media and by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood said 64 percent of those who voted backed the constitution.
“The Egyptian people continue their march toward finalizing the construction of a democratic modern state, after turning the page on oppression,” the Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), said in a statement.
Approval of the constitution would trigger parliamentary elections in two months’ time to replace an Islamist-dominated assembly that was dissolved by Egypt’s constitutional court before Morsi’s election in June.
In the meantime, all legislative business will be handled by the Senate, also under the sway of Islamists. On Saturday, Morsi appointed 90 additional senators, including eight women and 12 Christians, to further “national dialogue,” his spokesman said.
The Front had tried to scupper the poll with mass rallies before it switched its focus to a last-minute campaign to vote down the charter.
The text was drafted by a panel dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and ultra-orthodox Salafist groups.
Christians and liberals boycotted the process in protest at changes they saw as weakening human rights, especially those of women.
Combined turnout from both rounds was 32 percent, the Muslim Brotherhood said.
In Washington, Republican US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen called the vote “a defeat for the Egyptian people.”
“We cannot celebrate the trade of an authoritarian regime for an Islamic dictatorship,” she said.
Yesterday’s editions of Egyptian newspapers reflected the divisions in the country.
“Egypt heads to stability,” the front-page headline in state-owned al-Akhbar read.
“Mass violations,” the mass circulation independent daily al-Masry al-Youm reported.
FJP chairman Saad al-Katatni, offered an olive branch to other parties on Saturday, saying in a statement that the party hopes “to turn over a new leaf” in the political confrontation.
Pre-referendum tensions over the vote were seen in Egypt’s second city, Alexandria, on Friday, when 62 people were hurt as stone-throwing mobs torched vehicles.
On Dec. 5, eight people were killed and hundreds more injured in clashes between rival demonstrators outside the presidential palace in Cairo.
About 250,000 police and soldiers were deployed to provide security during the referendum. The army has also positioned tanks around the presidential palace since early this month.
Egyptian Vice President Mahmud Mekki, whose post is not mentioned in the new charter, announced on Saturday that he was resigning.
HELPING HAND: Taiwan is ready to help other nations and will not sit idly by while the global fight against the coronavirus continues, President Tsai Ing-wen said Taiwan, as a responsible member of the international community, is to offer humanitarian assistance to nations hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic by sending them masks and medicine, as well as sharing with them an electronic system that the government has been using to track down people that need to be quarantined, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday. With the nation’s daily production having reached 13 million masks and soon to reach 15 million, the government is to donate 10 million masks to medical personnel in nations most severely affected by the coronavirus, Tsai said at the Presidential Office in Taipei. The
NINE NEW CASES: The CECC said two locally transmitted cases of COVID-19, and seven imported ones – five women and two men – brought the nation’s total to 348 People who refuse to wear a mask on public transportation after being asked to do so would face a NT$3,000 to NT$15,000 fine, effective immediately, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday after announcing nine additional COVID-19 cases. In a move to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications on Tuesday announced that people must wear masks on trains and intercity buses, while Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, on Tuesday said that people should wear them when they cannot maintain a social distance of 1.5m indoors. Chen yesterday
TRILLION PROPOSED: The premier said the goal was to keep ‘businesses solvent, the unemployment rate down, transportation and logistics going, and cash flowing’ The Executive Yuan yesterday announced an expanded economic stimulus package totaling NT$1.05 trillion (US$34.64 billion), including NT$81.6 billion in subsidies for employers to prevent a spike in unemployment. The increased budget comprises a special budget of NT$210 billion, up from the NT$60 billion already passed by the Legislative Yuan; NT$140 billion — up from NT$40 billion — to be appropriated from the general budget; and NT$700 billion in loans to industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics Minister Chu Tzer-ming (朱澤民) told a news conference at the Executive Yuan in Taipei. The NT$150 billion increase in the
The Central Epidemic Command Center yesterday released a set of revised criteria for reporting suspected COVID-19 cases, while also announcing its guidelines for disclosing patients’ personal information. The center said that its advisory specialist panel revised the definition for “severe pneumonia with novel pathogens” — COVID-19 infection — by expanding the criteria needed to report suspected cases. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that physicians should report people for testing if they meet one of three clinical conditions: They have a fever, acute respiratory infection, or a lack of smell or taste; there is a