Islamist-Backed Constitution Passes in Egypt

BY Justin Kenny  December 23, 2012 at 10:48 AM EDT

An Egyptian woman casts her ballot during the second round of a referendum on a new draft constitution in Giza, south of Cairo, Saturday. Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images

Despite a low voter turnout, Egypt’s hastily drafted constitution received a majority of “yes” votes in the second and final round of voting on Saturday.

According to the Associated Press, preliminary results released early Sunday by Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood party showed that 71.4 percent of Saturday’s voters approved the constitutional referendum after 95.5 percent of the ballots were counted (56 percent voted “yes” in the first round of voting on Dec. 15). Official results may not be released until Monday, after a referendum committee hears appeals. If the referendum passes, a parliamentary election will be held in about two months.

In a statement, the Muslim Brotherhood said the constitution was a “historic opportunity to unite all national powers on the basis of mutual respect and honest dialogue for the sake of stabilizing the nation.”

The opposition claims that there were abuses in both rounds of voting. However, one official, talking to Reuters, confirmed that the Muslim Brotherhood’s bid was successful.

“They are ruling the country, running the vote and influencing the people, so what else could we expect,” a senior official from the main opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front, told Reuters.

The opposition accuses the Egyptian president of forcing through a draft that favors Islamists and ignores the rights of women and Christians (10 percent of the population).

According to the Associated Press, about eight million of the 25 million Egyptians eligible to vote — a turnout of about 30 percent — voted in the referendum.

We will have more on the referendum and what it means for Egypt on Monday’s NewsHour.

Read an unofficial English translation of the draft constitution.

Watch Margaret Warner’s report about the controversy surrounding the constitution here.