15 January 2014

Egypt: Constitutional Referendum Comes to an End

Cairo — Polls have closed in Egypt after a two-day vote on a newly written constitution.

Egyptians started voting on a new constitution on Tuesday in a referendum seen by the interim government as a stepping stone towards democracy, but by Islamists, who boycotted it, as illegitimate.

Egypt's interior ministry said early on Wednesday that it is ready to use live ammunition to secure the ballot boxes after the closing of polls.

At least nine people were killed in clashes that erupted during the first day of the referendum, with some sources identifying them as Muslim Brotherhood supporters, but official statements accusing the Brotherhood of killing them.

The interim government declared the Brotherhood a terrorist organization last month.

A 50-member assembly, chaired by politician Amr Moussa, wrote this new constitution to replace another written by an Islamist-led assembly under the Mohamed Mursi administration.

The army ousted Mursi in July in response to mass demonstrations against his rule, suspended his constitution and called for early parliamentary and presidential elections.

Egypt's army had promised intense security of the two-day voting process, in cooperation with the police, and the vote was conducted under heavy security.

Parliamentary and presidential elections are expected to kick off after the referendum, but in which order they will be run is yet to be decided.

Egyptians living abroad finished casting their votes on January 12.

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