Egypt’s opposition said on Sunday that it will appeal the results of a referendum that ruling Islamists said approved a new constitution, claiming that voting was riddled with “fraud and violations.”
The announcement was made by the opposition National Salvation Front the day after the second and final round of the referendum that President Mohamed Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood said passed with 64 percent support, according to unofficial early tallies.
“The referendum is not the end of the road. It is only one battle,” said the statement, read by Front member Abdel Ghaffer Shokr at a Cairo news conference. “We will continue the fight for the Egyptian people.”
Another Front member, Amr Hamzawy, said: “We are asking the (electoral) commission to investigate the irregularities before announcing official results.”
The results had been due to be announced on Monday. If the outcome is confirmed, a parliamentary election will follow in about two months.
Earlier on Sunday, an official in the Muslim Brotherhood said that the new constitution was approved by 64 percent of voters in a two-round referendum, citing the group’s unofficial tally.
“According to our calculations, the final result of the second round is 71 percent voting ‘yes’ and the overall result (of the two rounds) is 63.8 percent,” a Brotherhood official, who was in an operations room monitoring the vote, told Reuters.
The Brotherhood and its party, as well as members of the opposition, had representatives monitoring polling stations and the vote count across the country.
An opposition official also told Reuters their unofficial count showed the result was a “yes” vote.
Mursi’s Islamist backers say the constitution is vital for the transition to democracy, nearly two years after the overthrow of autocrat Hosni Mubarak in an uprising. It will provide stability needed to help a fragile economy, they say.
The Egyptian president’s liberal and secular opposition now faces the task of trying to organize the significant portion of the population angered by what it sees as attempts by Mursi and the Brotherhood to gain a lock on political power. The main opposition group, the National Salvation Front, said it would now start rallying for elections for the lawmaking, lower house of parliament, expected early next year.
Rights groups reported what they said were illegalities in voting procedures. They said some polling stations opened late, that Islamists illegally campaigned at some polling places and complained of irregularities in voter registration.
But the committee overseeing the two-stage vote said its investigations showed no major irregularities in voting on Dec. 15, which covered about half of Egypt’s 51 million voters. About 25 million were eligible to vote in the second round.
Only about eight million of the 25 million Egyptians eligible to vote - a turnout of about 30 percent - cast their ballots.
In the first round of voting, about 56 percent said “yes” to the charter. The turnout then was about 32 percent.
The results of the two rounds mean the referendum was approved by about 63 percent.
Resignations carry on
Hours before polls closed, Egypt’s Vice President Mahmoud Mekky announced his resignation.
Mekky said he wanted to quit last month but stayed on to help Mursi tackle the crisis that blew up when the Islamist leader assumed wide powers.
Mekky, a prominent judge who said he was uncomfortable in politics, disclosed earlier he had not been informed of Mursi’s power grab. The timing of his resignation appeared linked to the lack of a vice-presidential post under the draft constitution.
Over the past month, seven of Mursi’s 17 top advisers and the one Christian among his top four aides resigned. Like Mekky, they said they had never been consulted in advance on any of the president’s moves, including his Nov. 22 decrees, since rescinded, that granted himself near absolute powers.
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