19-Jan-14 World View -- Egypt's Constitution Approved with 98.1% of Referendum Voters
by John J. Xenakis 18 Jan 2014, 7:41 PM PDT 13 post a comment
Egypt's constitution approved by 98.1% of referendum voters
In a referendum that was held on Tuesday and Wednesday on whether to approve a proposed new constitution, a spectacular 98.1% of those voting said "yes," though voter turnout was only 38.6% of registered voters. This has given rise to questions of ballot-stuffing, but there have no reports of this happening.
However, the army-led government left nothing to chance in the referendum. There were expensive ad campaigns telling people to vote "yes" in the referendum, but anyone campaigning against the constitution could be arrested. Thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members have been arrested or killed since the ouster of Mohamed Morsi, so the climate of fear was such that any serious opposition to the referendum was unlikely to surface. The low voter turnout is being ascribed to a boycott by Muslim Brotherhood members.
When Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi was elected president in June 2012, his election was hailed as the first free democratic election of an Egyptian leader in the millennia of the nation's history. However, once in office, Morsi stunned Egypt and the world by taking a series of steps to make himself the "new Pharaoh" of Egypt, a virtual dictator. He issued decrees giving himself dictatorial powers, he fired other government officials and replaced with the Muslim Brotherhood officials, and having his Muslim Brotherhood supporters unilaterally rewrite the constitution according to the Brotherhood's strict version of Shariah law.
A referendum on Morsi's new constitution was conducted in December, 2012. It received an overwhelming 64% "YES" vote, but only 33% of registered voters actually voted. So an army coup ousted Morsi on July 3 of last year, and now a new referendum has been held on a new constitution. The "yes" vote was 98.1%, and the turnout was 38.6%. Officials in the army-led government are pointing to the slightly higher turnout figure as an indication of the huge victory in the referendum.
Now that the referendum is over, elections must be held within six months. All eyes are on army chief Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi, who is considered to be a hero by many for freeing Egypt of Morsi's dictatorship, while Morsi supporters consider him guilty of crimes against humanity. Al-Sisi is a very charming 59 year old man, and extremely popular with women, despite having a wife and four children. It's believed that al-Sisi is considering becoming a civilian and running for president. Al-Ahram and McClatchy and AFP