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Egyptian Referendum Expected Soon
November 25, 2013

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Egyptian voters will have their say on a new draft constitution by the end of the year, according a statement from the group drafting the new governmental blueprint.

The group of 50, led by former presidential candidate and Arab League leader Amr Moussa, began in September. The previous constitution, approved only last year, was declared void by the interim government, which ousted former President Mohamed Morsi on July 3.

Earlier, Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi had said that the referendum wouldn't happen before the end of January. Interim President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the army chief, promised free and fair elections. In addition, the interim government announced its intention to allow six non-government organizations to monitor the voting during the two-day referendum.

Whenever the vote is held, it is likely to take place without many members of the Muslim Brotherhood, who have vowed to boycott the vote in protest not only of the removal of the Islamist-dominated government installed by free elections in 2011 and 2012 but also of the thousands of arrests and hundreds of deaths that Brotherhood members and other Islamists have suffered since the new government took over.

Protests followed the announcement of the referendum and of a new protest law, among the restrictions of which is a three-day notification of any intended protest, complete with details about the purpose and participants.

A statement from the United States, which has already stopped some aid to Egypt, expressed concern at the breadth of the protest law.

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