File - Egypt's army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi giving a televised speech in Cairo on the attacks in the capital and North Sinai on November 20, 2013, targeting Egyptian security forces. AFP PHOTO / EGYPTIAN TV
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Egypt's military chief is looking for a strong turnout in next week's constitutional referendum as a mandate to run for president. But the popular general who ousted President Mohammad Morsi and ordered a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood could be disappointed: His Islamist foes have promised a boycott and mass demonstrations aimed at keeping voters at home. There are growing signs that the presidential vote will be held first, as early as April.A comfortable "yes" majority – of, say, 70 percent or more – along with a respectable turnout, would enshrine the legitimacy of the regime installed by Sisi when he ousted Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected leader, in a July 3 coup.The last time Sisi asked for a popular mandate was in July, when he called on Egyptians to take to the streets in support of what he called a fight against "possible terrorism".That constitution was adopted by some 64 percent of the vote, but with a turnout of under 35 percent.
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