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Egypt's constitution passes with overwhelming majority

Egypt’s constitution has passed with more than 98 percent approval, according to official results. The referendum has paved the way for presidential and parliamentary elections later this year.

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Egyptian voters back constitution

Egypt’s Supreme Electoral Commission confirmed Saturday that the country’s new constitution passed with 98.1 percent of the vote.

Turnout for the

two-day referendum,

which began Tuesday, "reached 38.6 percent” of Egypt's 53 million eligible voters the electoral committee said, higher than that of a 2012 Islamist-drafted referendum that was approved under ousted president Mohammed Morsi.

Judge Nabil Salib, who heads the commission, called the vote an "unrivaled success" and suggested voter participation would have been higher if it weren't for the vote coinciding with university midterm exams.

The passing of the constitution forwards the transition plan of Egypt's interim government, which was appointed after Morsi was deposed in a military-backed coup last July.

The new constitution is

devoid of the Islamist language

contained in the 2012 charter and grants increased powers to the military, police and judiciary.

The vote, however, was not supported by Morsi's followers including the Muslim Brotherhood organization. Since the ouster, police crackdown on pro-Morsi protests have killed more than 1,000 people, mostly Islamists. Last month the interim government labeled the Brotherhood a terrorist group, further marginalizing the organization.

Now that the constitution has been passed, presidential and parliamentary elections are set take place later this year.

The leading candidate for the presidency is army chief General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the man widely seen as the architect of Morsi's ouster.

hc/ccp (Reuters, dpa, AFP)

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