Opposition alleges fraud in Egypt′s referendum | News | DW | 15.12.2012
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Opposition alleges fraud in Egypt's referendum

Egypt's opposition has accused the government of fraud in the constitutional referendum. Analysts have said that it is likely, but not certain, the draft will be adopted.

The opposition National Salvation Front coalition did not call a threatened boycott for the perceived violations, doubling down instead on an appeal for Egyptians to reject the constitution. The allegations include unsealed ballot envelopes and a judge preventing Christians from voting at one Cairo polling station.

"Adoption of [a] divisive draft constitution that violates universal values and freedoms is a sure way to institutionalize instability and turmoil," the opposition politician and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed ElBaradei wrote on Twitter.

President Mohamed Morsi provoked angry demonstrations when he issued a decree last month expanding his powers and then fast-tracked the draft constitution through an assembly dominated by his Muslim Brotherhood group and its allies. Three weeks of protests followed, leaving eight people dead and hundreds injured, but failing to prevent the referendum.

High security

About 120,000 soldiers backed up 130,000 police officers to ensure that the referendum went smoothly.

Officials staggered voting across the country on Saturday and will continue the referendum next week as there are not enough judges to oversee polling after many refused in protest of Morsi.

The Muslim Brotherhood has campaigned heavily in favor of the draft constitution. The National Salvation Front has accused the Muslim Brotherhood of trying to usher in Shariah, or Islamic law.

Doubts, angst, abuse

NGOs, the UN human rights chief, the United States and the European Union have expressed concern about the constitution because of loopholes that could be used to weaken human rights, especially women's, and the independent judiciary.

Official results will not be announced until after next Saturday's voting. Partial and unofficial tallies, however, will likely emerge before, though, giving some idea of the outcome.

In order to pass, the constitution must be approved by more than 50 percent of voters who cast ballots. A little more than half of Egypt's electorate of 51 million were eligible for the first round.

Rights groups reported some abuses, such as polling stations opening late, people being bribed to vote for the constitution, intimidation and officials telling people to vote yes.

mkg/dr (AFP, Reuters, dpa)