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Egypt voters approve new constitution

Egyptian voters on Thursday approved the new military-backed constitution, by a margin of over 90 percent, according to unofficial results released Thursday by individual election committees throughout the country. According to Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, new constitution garnered [Ahram Online report] 97.57 percent "yes" votes and 1.48 percent "no" votes with results in from 26 of Egypt's 27 provinces. According to Al-Ahram, turnout for the election was 42.2 percent. Election monitors have reported [WP report] serious violations and irregularities in voting. A preliminary report [text; PDF] issued by the global anti-corruption organization Transparency International (TI) [advocacy website] has accused the government of restricting parties campaigning against the constitution and found "politically motivated violence, intimidation and repression from state and non-state actors limited and conditioned citizens' political and electoral participation." The two days of polling have seen [UK Guardian report] widespread violence throughout the country, including bomb attacks in Cairo and clashes between pro-government and pro-Morsi supporters.Approval of the new constitution has been viewed as a possible springboard for Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sissi [WP backgrounder], Egypt's armed forces chief and defense minister to run for president.

Egypt has faced political unrest since the Egyptian Revolution [JURIST backgrounder] began over two years ago. In December the Egyptian Assembly approved [JURIST report] the finalized draft of the new constitution. The secular-based document reflects a shift in policy from the strongly Islamist-leaning document approved under former President Mohamed Morsi [BBC profile, JURIST news archive]. In November the referendum on the constitution 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.

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