Update: Egyptians Approve New Constitution

A elderly woman sits as she queues outside a polling center to vote during a referendum on Egypt's new constitution in Cairo

Update: Egyptians headed to the polls on Saturday to vote for the second and final referendum on a new Constitution that has caused widespread anger and debate.  Those against the Constitution say it doesn’t protect against strict Islamic rule and is no better than the Constitution under Hosni Mubarak. Many voting in favor of the ratification would simply like to get back to some form of normalcy.  Of course there are those who are in favor of the Islamic rule of law.  Those voting no, are against the Muslim Brotherhood and Mohammed Morsi in fear of autocratic rule.  The charter has passed, although the legitimacy will be questioned based on low voter turnout and less than overwhelming support.

Initial votes on the ratification of the new Egyptian Constitution are being counted and although the referendum is somewhat controversial, it appears a majority of Egyptians are supporting it.  President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood have backed the referendum, which critics say, favor the Islamists.  According to Reuters News Agency, a Muslim Brotherhood official said 56.5% of Egyptians, so far, are backing the document.  Even the opposition said a yes vote appeared inevitable.  After a second vote next weekend, the results will be announced. There were some reports of polling irregularities.  According to the BBC, there were “reports of people falsely identifying themselves as judges, of women being prevented from voting, of some polling centers closing early and of some Christians being denied entry to polling stations.”  The turnout was estimated at 32% of voters, which is far lower the turnout for the Presidential or parliamentary elections following the removal of Hosni Mubarak.  The low turnout was perhaps an indication of how many Egyptians believed there would be a lack of integrity in the results as well as anger and disagreement over the document itself.  The question on the ballot was simply  to endorse or oppose the Constitution.  Following the announcement of the vote, the question that must be answered is whether or not it will end the conflict between the opposing sides.  Those opposed to it include the liberals, Christians and Secularists pushing for democratic as opposed to Islamist rule.

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