[JURIST] President Mohammed Morsi [BBC backgrounder] signed Egypt’s new constitution [text, PDF] into law late Tuesday, which was supported by over 63 percent of those who voted in the referendum. However, only 32.9% of Egypt’s total of 52 million voters actually participated in the referendum, leading many to debate its results. Egyptian press and commentators are divided over the approval [BBC report] of the new constitution, with some declaring the results to be “fake” [BBC report], and supporters from the Muslim Brotherhood claiming it to be the valid choice of the people. Immediately after the referendum, a coalition of Egyptian rights group called for a redo of the referendum, alleging widespread irregularities [JURIST report].
The final draft of the constitution is backed by the Islamists and has been extremely controversial. Earlier in December, the UN Working Group on discrimination against women [official website] expressed grave concern [JURIST report] over the draft constitution. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] has also expressed concern at the rising death toll during the ongoing political chaos in Egypt, saying that Egypt’s draft constitution presents serious problems for human rights [JURIST report]. Pillay complained [UN News Centre report] that the draft constitution was passed without the participation of Christian or liberal legislators. Pillay also said that she was concerned about the draft constitution’s omission of references to international human rights treaties that Egypt ratified in the past. While Pillay commended the fact that the draft constitution imposes term limits on President Mohammed Morsi and provides some protections for freedom of expression and religion, she noted that these protections were not strong enough.