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Egypt adopts new constitution as opposition cries foul

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Egypt's electoral commission confirmed on Tuesday that a controversial, Islamist-backed constitution was passed by 64 percent of voters, rejecting opposition allegations of polling fraud.
Those official results tallied with figures given by President Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood immediately after the last round of polling over the weekend in the two-stage referendum. Turnout, however, was barely 33 percent.
"There is no loser in this referendum result. This constitution will be for all of us," Prime Minister Hisham Qandil said in a statement. He called on "all political forces to cooperate with the government" to restore the economy.
The opposition reiterated its rejection of the result.
"The law will take its course after the official complaints we have made to the prosecution service over violations and fraud that have been noted," National Salvation Front spokesman Khaled Daoud told AFP.
The main opposition coalition, however, has already dismissed the plebiscite as "only one battle" and vowed to "continue the fight for the Egyptian people".
That sets the scene for continued instability after more than a month of protests, including clashes on December 5 that killed eight people and injured hundreds.
Washington called on Morsi to work to "bridge divisions".
"President Morsi... has a special responsibility to move forward in a way that recognises the urgent need to bridge divisions, build trust, and broaden support for the political process," acting State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said in a statement.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton took note of both the majority backing the constitution and the low turnout.
Repeating a call for dialogue, she added: "I urge those concerned, in particular the president, to intensify efforts in this regard."
Egypt's Communications Minister Hany Mahmoud announced his resignation Tuesday, following in the footsteps of Vice President Mahmud Mekki.
There have also been conflicting reports on whether central bank governor Faruq el Okda has stepped down, while the prosecutor general recently quit and then swiftly retracted his resignation.
"I quit for Egypt," the official Mena news agency quoted Mahmoud as saying, though the precise motives for his decision were not spelt out.
He apparently first tendered his resignation on November 22, the day Morsi announced sweeping new powers for himself.
Many creditors, investors and tourists have abandoned Egypt because of the volatility that has prevailed since the early 2011 revolution that toppled veteran leader Hosni Mubarak.
The International Monetary Fund this month put on hold a $4.8 billion loan Cairo needs to prevent a looming currency collapse.
Rating agency Standard and Poor's has downgraded Egypt's long-term credit rating one notch to "B-" because the "elevated" political tensions show no sign of abating.



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