Mobile  |  About us  |  Photos  |  Videos  |  Subscriptions  |  RSS Feeds  |  Today's Paper  |  Classifieds  |  Contact Us
The Daily Star
FRIDAY, 25 APR 2014
12:46 AM Beirut time
Weather    
Beirut
22 °C
Blom Index
BLOM
1,214.01down
Middle East
Follow this story Print RSS Feed ePaper share this
Egyptians set to vote on army-backed post-Mursi constitution
Reuters
A staff member of the Egyptian embassy (seated) checks the papers of Egyptian men placing their votes in a referendum on the country's new constitution, at the Egyptian embassy in Amman January 9, 2014. (REUTERS/Majed Jaber)
A staff member of the Egyptian embassy (seated) checks the papers of Egyptian men placing their votes in a referendum on the country's new constitution, at the Egyptian embassy in Amman January 9, 2014. (REUTERS/Majed Jaber)
A+ A-

CAIRO: Egyptians vote this week for the first time since Mohamed Mursi's downfall in a constitutional referendum that will likely give a final push to a presidential bid by the man who deposed him, army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Approval of the rewritten constitution appears a foregone conclusion: Mursi's now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood is urging a boycott rather than a 'no' vote, while many Egyptians who backed his overthrow are expected to vote 'yes' in a show of support for the army-backed order that has replaced Islamist rule.

The state is urging citizens to vote in numbers on Tuesday and Wednesday. Analysts say it hopes that the turnout and the 'yes' vote will outstrip ballots won by the Muslim Brotherhood to give the new order an electoral seal of legitimacy.

"Egypt is on the threshold of a decisive stage in its history, the results of which are awaited by the world," Sisi said on Saturday in public remarks that included the clearest indication to date that he will stand.

"If I run, then it must be at the request of the people, and with a mandate from my army," said the 59-year-old, who is depicted by his supporters as a saviour who will restore stability to a country that seen three years of turmoil.

Sisi deposed Mursi, Egypt's first freely elected head of state, on July 3 following mass protests against his rule. His Islamist opponents see him as the mastermind of a coup that set off the worst internal strife in Egypt's modern history.

As the referendum approaches, Sisi's supporters are conflating him and the constitution into one: "Yes to the constitution" declares one banner strung from a Cairo building, alongside a photo of Sisi in army uniform.

Sisi appeared on state TV again on Sunday, addressing members of the security forces set to provide security for the vote. The Interior Ministry will deploy 220,000 policemen and 500 combat units, state TV reported. Troops will also be used.

The referendum is a key element of a transition plan the government unveiled in July with the stated aim of restoring democracy, while simultaneously launching a fierce crackdown on the Brotherhood, Egypt's best organised party until last year.

Driven underground and declared a terrorist group on Dec. 25, the Brotherhood has said it will not take part in the road map. A presidential vote is expected as early as April, once the referendum is approved, with a parliamentary election later.

"What will count is the percentage of Egyptians who go," said Hassan Nafaa, a professor of political science at Cairo University. "It will be very clear to the whole world whether this was a revolution against Mursi or a coup d'etat."

The constitution will replace one signed into law by Mursi a little more than a year ago after it was approved in a referendum. The new text strips out controversial Islamist language while strengthening state institutions that opposed Mursi's rule: the military, the police and the judiciary.

Its supporters include the ultra-orthodox Islamist Nour Party, which backed Mursi's removal, the official Islamic establishment of Al-Azhar and the Coptic Church.

The draft has won some praise for its stronger human rights protections, even as the authorities have cracked down on dissent with moves including a new law that tightly curbs protests, drawing criticism from Western governments.

With the Brotherhood boycotting, there have been no signs of a major effort to mobilise a 'no' vote, and little or no criticism of the draft constitution in Egyptian media, which are overwhelmingly hostile to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The United States expressed concern last week after reports that three political activists had been arrested while campaigning for a 'no' vote in the referendum, said Jen Psaki, spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department.

The Carter Center, which has deployed election monitors for most of Egypt's votes, also said last week it was "deeply concerned about the polarized environment and the narrowed political space surrounding the upcoming referendum".

It also cited concerns about the "lack of an inclusive process for drafting and publicly debating the draft".

This will be the third time Egyptians have voted on constitutional arrangements since the historic uprising against President Hosni Mubarak in January, 2011, and overall the sixth time they have gone to the polls since his downfall.

Political turmoil, economic crises and a failed experiment with democracy have made many Egyptians yearn for stability.

"There is no order. We want justice, we want stability, we want the police on the streets," said Menatalla Mohamed, a 33-year-old florist, explaining why she will vote 'yes' this week.

Mursi's Islamists allies last week issued a statement calling for continued protests. "Of course I will boycott because this constitution comes after a coup against a legitimate president," said Mohamed Mustafa, a 26-year-old Brotherhood activist in the coastal city of Alexandria.

"I will also boycott because the blood of thousands of people has been spilt and there are thousands of detainees."

The security forces killed hundreds of Mursi supporters in the weeks after his removal. Meanwhile, bombings and shootings targeting the security forces have become commonplace, with several hundred soldiers and policemen killed.

 
Home Middle East
 
     
 
Egypt
Advertisement
Comments  

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

comments powered by Disqus
Story Summary
Egyptians vote this week for the first time since Mohamed Mursi's downfall in a constitutional referendum that will likely give a final push to a presidential bid by the man who deposed him, army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Approval of the rewritten constitution appears a foregone conclusion: Mursi's now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood is urging a boycott rather than a 'no' vote, while many Egyptians who backed his overthrow are expected to vote 'yes' in a show of support for the army-backed order that has replaced Islamist rule.

The referendum is a key element of a transition plan the government unveiled in July with the stated aim of restoring democracy, while simultaneously launching a fierce crackdown on the Brotherhood, Egypt's best organised party until last year.

A presidential vote is expected as early as April, once the referendum is approved, with a parliamentary election later.

The constitution will replace one signed into law by Mursi a little more than a year ago after it was approved in a referendum.

With the Brotherhood boycotting, there have been no signs of a major effort to mobilise a 'no' vote, and little or no criticism of the draft constitution in Egyptian media, which are overwhelmingly hostile to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Related Articles
 
 
Egypt's Brotherhood says there 'can be no stability' under Sisi
 
 
Egypt court bans Brotherhood members from polls
 
 
Egypt violence kills 3; group names suicide bomber
 
 
Cairo triple-bombing kills police general
 
 
Egypt arrests alleged "terrorist" who fought in Syria
Show More
Entities
Advertisement


Baabda 2014
Advertisement
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Linked In Follow us on Google+ Subscribe to our Live Feed
Multimedia
Images  
Pictures of the day
A selection of images from around the world- Thursday April 24, 2014
View all view all
Advertisement
Rami G. Khouri
Rami G. Khouri
Israel shows Zionism’s true colors
Michael Young
Michael Young
For Christians, blessed are the dividers
David Ignatius
David Ignatius
An Iran deal is close, but we’re not there yet
View all view all
Advertisement
cartoon
 
Click to View Articles
 
 
News
Business
Opinion
Sports
Culture
Technology
Entertainment
Privacy Policy | Anti-Spamming Policy | Disclaimer | Copyright Notice
© 2014 The Daily Star - All Rights Reserved - Designed and Developed By IDS