Thursday, December 13, 2012

Egyptian opposition calls on followers to vote 'no' in the constitutional referendum

Hamdeen Sabbahi in Mustafa Mahmoud square before starting a march to Tahrir
Hamdeen Sabbahi (Al-Masry al-Youm/Virginie Nguyen)

Egypt's opposition called on its followers Wednesday to vote "no" in  the referendum on a the constitution that will take place on 15 and 22 December. The National Salvation Front's advice came in a declaration read out by front leader Hamdeen Sabbahi. It stated that the authorities must ensure a free and fair vote,  that the referendum should take place over the course of a single day with full judicial supervision, and should be supervised  also by domestic, international and NGO teams.
 In its statement, the front also said that it declined participating in a national dialogue with President Mohamed Morsi because of the lack of consensus over the constitution, while also claiming that Morsi ignored their earlier proposals to end ongoing political tension over the document. It stressed that it "will continue in its quest with the people in overthrowing this Constitution, and that this referendum is not the end, but the struggle will continue''.
Wednesday's call for a "no" vote followed a prolonged debate within the opposition over whether to boycott the referendum. Meanwhile President Morsi issued a decree ordering that the referendum will be held in two stages on 15 and 22 December. The vote had earlier been scheduled for 15 December only. A justice ministry source told Al-Ahram's Arabic-language news website that the decision to hold the vote in two stages had been based on a request by Egypt's Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC), which cited the limited number of judges available to oversee the poll. A number of Egyptian judges have gone on strike following President Mohamed Morsi's 22 November constitutional declaration, which temporarily bolstered his powers. And on Tuesday, the Egyptian Administrative State Council's Judges Club declared its members' refusal to supervise the vote.
In the first stage on 15 December, polling will take place in the governorates of Cairo, Alexandria, Daqhaliya, Gharbiya, Sharqiya, Assuit, Sohag, Aswan and North and South Sinai. On 22 December, polling will take place in the governorates of Qena, Beni Suef, Minya, Menoufiya, Beheira, Damietta, New Valley, the Red Sea, Fayoum, Kafr Al-Sheikh, Giza, Port Said, Suez, Marsa Matrouh, Luxor, Qalioubiya and Ismaliya.

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