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Egyptian voters endorse constitution, but boycott suggests divide

Sun., Jan. 19, 2014, midnight

CAIRO – Almost everyone who cast ballots supported Egypt’s new constitution in this week’s referendum, results announced Saturday show, but a boycott by Islamists and low youth turnout suggest the country is still dangerously divided.

Nearly 20 million voters backed the new constitution, almost double the number of those who voted for one drafted in 2012 under the government of toppled Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Only a narrow sliver of voters – 1.9 percent – voted against the charter, after a massive government-sponsored campaign supporting it and the arrest of activists campaigning against it.

The expected overwhelming support for the charter is seen as key to legitimizing Egypt’s military-backed interim government, and the political plan put in place since Morsi’s ouster in July. Analysts say it also suggests military chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who led the coup against Morsi, has enough popular support to make a rumored run for the presidency himself.

It was the first vote since the military removed Morsi following massive protests in July.


 

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