Egypt's constitution poll to be held in two stages, opposition urges 'No' vote

Last Updated: Thu, Dec 13, 2012 10:40 hrs

-ANI): Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on Wednesday issued a republican decree on running the constitutional referendum in two stages, official news agency MENA reported.

The referendum, initially set for Saturday only, would take place on Saturday and a week later, the decree said.

In the first stage, polling would take place in 10 governorates, while the second vote would cover the other governorates.

The reason for holding the referendum in two stages was the lack of judges to supervise voting at polling stations, said a member of Egypt's Supreme Electoral Commission Mahmoud Abu Shousha.

Earlier in December, the Egyptian Judge Club said it would boycott the referendum.

However, it announced Monday that it would supervise the constitutional referendum with such conditions as forbidding propaganda out of polling stations and securing the headquarters of the Higher Committee for Elections.

About 51 million Egyptians are eligible to vote in the upcoming referendum, MENA reported Wednesday.

Egypt has a population of 91 million -- 83 million at home and 8 million abroad.

Voting by Egyptian expatriates have already started Wednesday morning and will end Saturday.

Head of Egyptian Constituent Assembly Hossam al-Ghiriani urged voters to take part in the country's constitutional referendum and to read the draft constitution well before their approval or disapproval.

Stressing that voting in the referendum was a national duty, al- Ghiriani called on Egyptians not to participate in rallies, protests or marches on the referendum day whether they were for or against the draft constitution.

Meanwhile, Egypt's main opposition bloc, the National Salvation Front, announced they would take part in the constitution referendum but would say "No" to the draft constitution.

Despite their long calls for postponing the referendum on the draft constitution, the front, an alliance of Egyptian political parties formed to defeat Morsi's Nov. 22 constitutional declaration, said they decided to participate in the referendum without conditions as long as the referendum would be well supervised by the transparent judiciary.

On Nov. 22, Morsi issued a new constitutional declaration which rules that all laws, decrees and constitutional declarations issued by the president since he came into office on June 30 are final and unchallengeable by anybody, which triggered a nationwide wave of protests and demonstrations.

On Saturday, Morsi issued a new constitutional declaration, which annulled the previous one. However, the date for the constitutional referendum had not been put off as required by the opposition.

In its third article, Morsi's new constitutional declaration said that if the new constitution was voted down in the referendum, the president would call for the election of a new assembly through direct ballot to draft a new constitution.

The new 100-member panel would be elected within three months after the announcement of the referendum results. (Xinhua-ANI)

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