Egypt votes on new charter as army chief eyes presidency

Posted: January 16, 2014 in Current Affairs, World Affairs
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CAIRO: Egyptians vote for a new constitution on Tuesday in a referendum seen as a test of support for a presidential bid by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, almost seven months after he toppled Mohamed Morsi.An Islamist coalition led by Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood has called for a boycott and “civilised peaceful protests” during the two-day referendum, but the interior ministry has pledged to “decisively” confront any attempts to disrupt voting.

The military-installed government hopes the vote, the first since Morsi’s overthrow in July, will shore up its disputed authority after a brutal crackdown on Morsi’s Islamist supporters, who have denounced the “sham referendum”.While it is uncertain how many Egyptians will vote amid concern over violence and militant attacks, the constitution appears certain to pass.It has done away with much of the Islamist-inspired wording of Morsi’s constitution, which was suspended on his overthrow, and its supporters say it expands women’s rights and freedom of speech.But it has bolstered the military’s powers, granting the army the right to appoint the defence minister for the next eight years and to try civilians for attacks on the armed forces.Interim president Adly Mansour implored Egyptians to turn out at the polls, which will be secured by hundreds of thousands of soldiers and policemen across the country

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