[JURIST] Six Egyptian human rights organizations issued a report Tuesday alleging that only five percent of Egyptian citizens participated in last month's constitutional referendum [JURIST report], far lower than the 27 percent voting rate announced by Egyptian Justice Minister Mamdouh Marei, and that the vote was marred by fraud. Seventy-six percent of those casting ballots voted in favor of 34 amendments [JURIST report] to the country's constitution [text]. The vote was boycotted [JURIST report] by the country's main opposition party. The rights groups criticized not only the low voter turnout, but also raised fraud allegations of ballot stuffing and voter intimidation and said the substance of the amendments merely cements President Hosny Mubarak's hold on power and grants the police wide-ranging arrest powers, among other complaints.
President Mubarak [official profile; JURIST news archive] has defended the amendments [JURIST report] as necessary to "stop the exploitation of religion and illegal political power" in Egypt. AP has more.