Egypt’s Referendum Being Boycotted, More Unrest
The State Council Judges Club in Egypt announced today that it will boycott the second day of the Egyptian referendum forced through by President Morsi to approve a draft Islamist constitution. This move is despite its agreement to conditionally monitor the referendum. Boycotts by judges, however, resulted in the referendum being extended by an additional day due to a shortage of presiding judges.
Last Saturday, the first day of the referendum was held in ten of the nation’s 27 provinces and attracted a turnout of 23 percent while 120,000 army troops supported police at polling stations and state institutions. However the referendum has been underpinned by numerous reported irregularities including voter intimidation and bribery.
Within hours, the Islamists cited unofficial sources and claimed that 56.6 percent of the ballots were in favor of the Constitution’s draft, while 43.5 percent rejected it. The Egyptian Coalition for Monitoring Elections hit back with a statement saying, “There were cases of voter intimidation, delaying the voting process and early closure of some voting centers with no clear reasons.” The government-funded National Council for Human Rights backed up these claims.
The opposition National Salvation Front (NSF) has said that acts of voting fraud perpetrated by the Muslim Brotherhood included polling centers collecting votes without judges to oversee the process, civil employees illegally replacing the judges, ballot papers not being officially stamped, campaigning inside polling stations and Christian voters being turned away.
Islamists tried to legitimize their claims of first day victory with assertions that their unofficial lead is driven by populous Alexandria, the Muslim Brotherhood’s stronghold where founder Hassan Al Banna resided.
Last night, the opposition NSF, which is a collation of minorities, liberals and secularists, called for further protests to drive home their demand that the undemocratic Sharia-style Constitution be pulled back in its entirety. The NSF urged people to “take to the streets on Tuesday to defend their freedoms, prevent fraud and reject the draft.”
The opposition continues to demand that the Islamist Constitution, which ignores the rights of women and minorities and subjugates the people of Egypt to an Islamic fundamentalist theocracy, be re-drafted by a truly democratically representative council that is equitable and fair in the process. Several members of the Constitutional Council had resigned in protest as a result of what they termed ‘Islamist bullying.’ The NSF also has repeatedly reminded the world that Morsi’s marginal win of 800,000 votes does not mandate the hijacking of Egypt.
Mohamed Al Baradei, the National Coordinator for the NSF tweeted “Last chance: cancel the ill-reputed referendum and begin a dialogue to close the rift, and [appoint] a capable technocratic government that can administer and bring back the state of law.”
Amid the D-Day type rhetoric, Tuesday’s protests are expected to bring with them more violence and casualties as Muslim Brotherhood supporters shoot indiscriminately, while reported gangs backed by the Muslim Brotherhood rape and assault unarmed NSF protesters. Clashes between protesters have resulted in at least 10 deaths and 1,000 injuries.
- Egyptian Opposition: Re-stage ‘Flawed’ Constitutional Referendum (blogs.voanews.com)
- Tensions rise as Egyptians vote on new constitution (guardian.co.uk)
- Counting under way in Egypt’s referendum (bigpondnews.com)
- Egypt opposition alleges referendum rigging as Muslim Brotherhood claims victory (rawstory.com)
- Egyptians narrowly back Islamist-shaped constitution, say rival camps – Reuters (reuters.com)