Egyptians voted to approve 34 constitutional changes that would exclude religious parties from the political system. Of those who voted, 75.9% backed amendments that the ruling party claims will strengthen democracy. On the contrary, the Muslim Brotherhood movement boycotted the referendum.
According to the Egyptian justice ministry, the turnout in Monday's vote was 27.1%. Interestingly, according to the independent Egyptian Organization for Human Rights the figure is between 6-9%. Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, welcomed the result in a brief televised address. Whereas, Mohamed Habib, the deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood said the government had made up the results.
Amnesty International described the referendum as the greatest erosion of human rights in 26 years. Additionally, Human Rights Watch said the amendments "effectively remove basic protections against violations of Egyptians' rights to privacy, individual freedom, security of person and home and due process".
Critics claim that a number of anti-terror laws among the amendments will give police greater powers of arrest and surveillance and turn the country into a police state.
On Monday night, the Egyptian Council of Human Rights, a government body, said that there were voting irregularities.
According to Al Jazeera, the amendments, passed by parliament after a secretive drafting process controlled by the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), mainly targeted the Muslim Brotherhood. Under the amended constitution, the Brotherhood will have difficulty winning seats in parliament because Mubarak and the ruling party are allowed to dissolve the existing parliament and hold new elections under a new voting system.
Brotherhood leaders say the government's aim is to push out the opposition and make it easier to install Mubarak's son, Gamal, as the country's next president. Gamal Mubarak, head of the NDP, has denied he has presidential ambitions.