CAIRO – The new military imposed regime in Egypt will face a new test of legitimacy later this week when voters go to cast poll in the referendum on an amended version of Egypt's suspended 2012 constitution, as very low turnout of expatriates raised their alarms.
"Not only is this referendum to a certain extent a test of just whether people like the constitution, but also of the post-Morsi order and a new regime in place, and a test of Sisi's popularity," Issandr El Amrani, North Africa director for the International Crises Group, told Agence Frence Presse (AFP) on Sunday, January 12.
"It is explicitly being portrayed by the country's ruling elite as such," he added.
Egyptians are to vote Tuesday and Wednesday on a heavily amended version of 2012 charter enacted under toppled President Mohammed Morsi.
The turnout and the percentage of "yes" votes will be monitored by Sisi as he decides whether to run for president, military sources say.
Work on the new document started after the army moved last July 3 to oust the first democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi at the hands of Egypt's military as part of the road map imposed by the military.
On the backdrop of daily protest rejecting what they call “coup d’état”, an army appointed committee concluded its work in three months, urging all Egyptians to vote yes in the referendum set on January 14-15.
A coalition led by the Muslim Brotherhood, the group from which Morsi hails, is calling for a boycott of the vote.
It also has promised to keep up its near-daily protests to contest Morsi's ouster and the military-backed interim government.
"In a way people aren't really being asked to go vote for a document, they are being asked to go give their approval to the July regime," said Andrew Hammond, a fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.
"There are people on the street almost every day saying they don't agree with what happened on July 3," he said of protesters who oppose his overthrow on that date.
"They need a clear public vote of confidence that would then allow Sisi to stand up and run for president if he decided to," he added.
Researchers say that the vote is not expected to bring stability to a polarized community
"Egyptians always vote yes," Amro Ali, researcher from the Institute for Democracy and Human Rights at Sydney University, told ABC.
"Yes has always meant stability, yes has positive connotations and there are ridiculously enough criminalizing elements for voting a no.
"So you can be arrested for promoting a no vote which is a very strange form of democracy - but this is Egypt,” he added.
The constitutional referendum is the first step of a transitional roadmap imposed by the military following last July's ouster of Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president.
Backers of the constitution are hoping for at least a 70 percent vote in favour of the constitution as a satisfying majority.
2012 constitution passed with 64 percent of the vote.
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