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Egyptians Overwhelmingly Approve New Constitution

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January 19, 2014

Egyptian voters have approved the country's draft constitution by a massive 98.1 percent, the election commission has announced.

During the two-day referendum, just 38.6 percent of the country's 53 million voters cast their votes. Many Islamists, who featured prominently in the previous government, did not participate. The most prominent Islamist organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, called for a nationwide boycott and vowed to continue protests against the interim government. Members of the Brotherhood also criticized the government for curtailing anti-constitution protests in the days leading up to the voting.

Those who did vote, however, put their political faith in the new government blueprint, which, among other things, grants more rights to more people, including women and religious minorities. The turnout was higher than the 2012 referendum on the Islamist-supported constitution. That two-day referendum drew only 32.9 percent of eligible voters. It was yet another example of how the current events stand in stark contrast to those just a year ago, when the reverse was true, in that then-President Mohamed Morsi, a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, was at the head of an Islamist-dominated Parliament and an Islamist-voters-approved constitution.

Army chief General Abdel Fattah al Sisi, the head of the army and interim vice-president, is widely expected to announce his candidacy for the presidency. Voting for that office and for Parliament are expected to take place in the next few months.

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