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Egyptians begin voting on new constitution in two-day referendum

Egyptians began voting Tuesday in a two-day referendum on the proposed new constitution, which would replace the one passed under former president Mohammed Morsi. Supporters of the new constitution view the referendum as a grand democratic move and the document itself as vesting them with new rights previously unrecognized. However, critics have claimed that the referendum is more about vindicating Morsi's removal than changing the internal political situation, and also claim that the proposed constitution disproportionately favors the military at the expense of the people. This is the first [Al Jazeera report] ballot since Morsi's removal in July. The new constitution is based on the 1971 constitution, though it contains [Al Jazeera backgrounder] some key differences.

The Egyptian Assembly approved [JURIST report] the finalized draft of the new constitution in December3a secular-based document reflecting a shift in policy from the strongly Islamist-leaning document approved under former President Morsi. In November the referendum on the constitution, although originally scheduled for December, was postponed [JURIST report] until January to allow the Assembly more time to complete amendments to the document. The previous constitution has been in suspension [JURIST report] since Morsi's removal in July. That document was approved [JURIST report] by referendum in December 2012, although its opponents appealed its adoption, alleging that its approval was obtained through widespread fraud and irregularities in the administration of the voting. Despite the opposition's allegations, Morsi signed the former constitution into law only three days later. It is yet unclear what changes this proposed new constitution will bring to Egypt.

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