Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Egypt: Voters Go to Polls Today to Cast Ballots for New Constitution

According to AFP, Egyptians queued up to vote on a new constitution earlier today (January 14) Tuesday amidst incredibly high security, in a referendum likely to launch a presidential bid by the army chief who overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

The violence highlighted the government's delicate grip on the most populous Arab country, still reeling from the ouster of Morsi and a bloody crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood supporters. 

Polling at most stations got off to a smooth start, but four people were killed in clashes between Morsi supporters and police in central and southern Egypt.An Islamist coalition led by the Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood had called for a boycott and protests during the two days of voting, to no avail.

A small IED detonated without causing injuries outside a Cairo court shortly before polls opened in the morning, as hundreds of thousands of soldiers and police deployed to protect polling stations.
The police and army have deployed hundreds of thousands of personnel to guard polling stations amid fears that a spate of militant attacks and protests would keep voters at home.
COMMENT: Observers contend that it is uncertain as to how many voters will go to the polls, yet the constitution is believed to be certain to pass.
Nevertheless, authorities are worried that a low turnout to vote for the new constitution would empower the Islamists in Morsi's Brotherhood to cast further doubt on the constitution's legitimacy.
Backers of the constitution are hoping for at least a 70% vote in favor of the constitution as a satisfying majority.
Morsi's constitution passed with 64% of the vote, but based solely on a turnout of barely 33% of the country's 53 million voters.
At least 1,000 people, mostly Islamists, have been killed in street clashes, and thousands have been imprisoned since the ouster of Morsi, whose supporters continue protests throughout Cairo on a daily basis.