Vote counting in Egypt’s constitution referendum begins

Cairo, Jan 16: Vote counting of Egypt’s constitution referendum has been underway after polling stations across the country closed Wednesday evening, according to a statement of the High Electoral Committee.

The constitution will be approved by winning over 50 percent of the vote, and the result of the referendum is scheduled to be announced within 72 hours, Xinhua reported.

Egyptians started casting votes Tuesday on the country’s new draft constitution, which is widely seen as a milestone during Egypt’s political transition after Islamist president Mohamed Morsi was ousted last July.

The polling stations opened at 9 a.m. in the country’s 27 governorates and closed at 9 p.m.

The new constitution, which is to replace the previous one mainly written by Morsi’s Islamist allies in late 2012, represents a prior stage in the country’s future roadmap.

If the draft charter is approved, Egypt will go through parliamentary and presidential elections, and the post-Morsi transitional period will come to an end in mid-2014, six months at most after the referendum.

The second day of the referendum is seemingly calmer than the first day as only minor clashes were reported. Nine people were killed during the first day as clashes erupted between police and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood across the country.

Massive security forces were deployed to protect the polling stations. More than 160,000 soldiers and 200,000 policemen, in addition to about 650 battle groups have been on standby in case of disorder.

IANS