Middle East

Kerry hopes for 'transparent' Egypt referendum

An Egyptian man holds a portrait of Egypt's Defence Minister General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi outside a polling station during the vote on a new constitution on January 14, 2014 in Giza, Cairo. (AFP PHOTO/MAHMOUD KHALED)

KUWAIT CITY: U.S. State Secretary John Kerry said he hopes Egypt's constitutional referendum, in which voting ends Wednesday, will be a "transparent and accountable" process.

If there is strong support for the new charter, that may launch a presidential bid by army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who overthrew Islamist president Mohammad Morsi in July.

"Our hope is that it will be a process that is transparent and accountable and one that can give confidence to people that they are going down the road that has been promised. But we don't know yet," Kerry said in Kuwait, where he attended a Syria donors conference.

State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said Tuesday that regardless of the outcome of the referendum "it will be important for the interim government to foster a positive environment for civil society."

It must also protect the rights of political activists, she added, as she voiced concerns about outbreaks of deadly violence after the two-day referendum started.

Washington froze some of its aid to Egypt, most of which is military, after the toppling of Morsi. It insisted that the military-installed leadership put the country back on the path to democracy.

But Congress is poised to adopt legislation that could give President Barack Obama the authority to re-instate some $1.5 billion (1.1 billion euros) in frozen aid to Egypt.





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