Egypt’s opposition claimed widespread fraud after a referendum gave approval to an Islamist-backed constitution.
The constitution, which has provoked large scale demonstrations and riots, got the backing of 64 per cent of voters it was claimed today by the Muslim Brotherhood, the main group backing the charter.
But the National Salvation Front, the main opposition group, said ‘irregularities’ should be investigated by the election commission.
They also said many people had stayed away from the vote, because of fears of electoral abuse. Turnout was put at around 30 percent of voters.
‘The referendum is not the end of the road,’ said Khaled Dawoud, a spokesman for the National Salvation Front. ‘It is only the beginning of a long struggle for Egypt’s future.’
The referendum committee may not declare official results for the two rounds until Monday, after hearing appeals.
If the unofficial numbers are confirmed, it will be a victory Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, who is from the Brotherhood, and a parliamentary election will follow in about two months.
Mursi’s Islamist backers say the constitution is vital for the transition to democracy, nearly two years after Mubarak was ousted in a popular uprising. It will provide the stability needed to help a fragile economy, they say.
The constitution was “a historic opportunity to unite all national powers on the basis of mutual respect and honest dialogue for the sake of stabilising the nation,” the Brotherhood said in a statement.
During the build-up to the vote there were deadly protests, sparked by Mursi’s decision to award himself extra powers in a Nov. 22 decree and then to fast-track the constitutional vote.
The new basic law sets a limit of two four-year presidential terms. It says the principles of sharia, Islamic law, remain the main source of legislation.
It also says Islamic authorities will be consulted on sharia – a source of concern to Christians and others.
Renewed violence and political tensions have further imperiled Egypt’s already precarious economy, reeling from dwindling resources and a cash-strapped government whose plans to borrow from the International Monetary Fund had to be pushed back because of the turmoil.