[JURIST] The Egyptian government said Tuesday that voters overwhelmingly approved 34 amendments [JURIST report] to the country's constitution [text] despite low voter turnout in the referendum [JURIST report] overall. Egyptian Justice Minister Mamdouh Marei said that almost 76 percent of those voting cast their ballot in favor of the amendments but only 27 percent of Egyptians actually showed up to the polls. Rights groups voiced concern [EOHR press release] over the voting totals with the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights [advocacy website] counting only two to three percent of Egyptians having voted five hours prior to polls closing. The Hisham Mubarak Law Center also accused the government of stuffing ballot boxes at poll sites.
Opposition groups, including the banned Muslim Brotherhood [party website; JURIST news archive], boycotted [JURIST report] the referendum, accusing the government of pushing the amendments to protect the ruling party from genuine competition in the 2011 presidential elections. Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak [official profile; JURIST news archive], however, defended the amendments [JURIST report] as necessary to "stop the exploitation of religion and illegal political power" in Egypt. AP has more.