CAIRO – Nearly two-thirds of Egyptian voters have overwhelmingly approved the country’s new constitution, official results showed Tuesday, December 25.
"I hope all national powers will now start working together now to build a new Egypt," Murad Ali, a senior official in the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, told Reuters.
"I see this as the best constitution in Egypt's history."
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Election commission announced Tuesday that 63.8 percent of Egyptian voters approved the new constitution in a two-stage referendum last week.
Nearly 36.2 percent voted against the charter.
Turnout was 32.9 percent of Egypt’s 52 million eligible voters.
The commission dismissed the opposition allegations of fake judges supervising some of the polling, though it annulled the results from a few polling stations because they closed early.
The constitution has been a source of contention between Islamists and liberals in the past months.
Opponents say the new constitution could allow religious leaders to intervene in lawmaking, while offering scant protections to minorities and women.
But supporters say the text offers enough protection for minorities and is necessary to end two years of turmoil since the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak last year.
"There is no loser in this referendum result. This constitution will be for all of us," Prime Minister Hisham Qandil said in a statement cited by Agence France-Presse (AFP).
He called on "all political forces to cooperate with the government" to restore the economy.
Two years of political turmoil has hammered Egypt’s economy.
Many creditors, investors and tourists have abandoned Egypt because of the volatility that has prevailed since Mubarak’s fall.
The International Monetary Fund this month put on hold a $4.8 billion loan Cairo needs to prevent a looming currency collapse.
The rating agency Standard and Poor's has downgraded Egypt's long-term credit rating one notch to 'B-' because the "elevated" political tensions show no sign of abating.
The government on Tuesday ordered new restrictions on foreign currency apparently designed to prevent capital flight.
Leaving or entering with more than $10,000 cash is now banned.
The opposition reiterated rejection of results of the constitutional referendum.
"We need a better constitution," said Khaled Dawood, spokesman of the opposition National Salvation Front.
"It does not represent all Egyptians."
Immediately after the announcement, a small group of protesters set tires on fire and blocked traffic near the central Tahrir square, the cradle of Egypt's uprising.
"The law will take its course after the official complaints we have made to the prosecution service over violations and fraud that have been noted," Dawood told AFP.
Opposition front Mohamed ElBaradei admitted to the US network PBS on Monday that the referendum "is going to pass."
"But it's a really sad day in my view for Egypt, because it is going to institutionalize instability," Baradei, a Nobel Peace laureate and former chief of the UN atomic energy agency, said.
He insisted that the new charter should be treated as "an interim one" until another is written up on the basis of consensus.
Washington, which provides billions of dollars a year in military and other support for Egypt and regards it as a pillar of security in the Middle East, called on Egyptian politicians to bridge divisions."President Morsi, as the democratically elected leader of Egypt, has a special responsibility to move forward in a way that recognizes the urgent need to bridge divisions," State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said.
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