PoliticsElectionsEgypt split ahead of polls


Posted on Monday, 13 January 2014 12:16

Egypt split ahead of polls

By Konye Obaji Ori

General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is a favourite among many circles to run for president. Photo©ReutersOpinion is split in Egypt ahead of a referendum on a new constitution that will set the stage for new presidential elections in April.


The Interior Ministry is set to deploy 220,000 policemen and 500 combat units, to protect the ballots and keep peace.

If I run, then it must be at the request of the people, and with a mandate from my army

According to reports, many Egyptians who backed the overthrow of ousted President Mohamed Morsi are expected to vote 'yes' in a show of support for the army-backed command that has replaced Islamist rule.

Supporters of the military-backed constitution carried banners in Cairo which read: "Yes to the constitution."

However, supporters of Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood, and opponents of military intervention are expected to vote 'no.'

The outlawed Muslim Brotherhood is urging its supporters to boycott the referendum rather than a 'no' vote.

The Carter Center, which has deployed election monitors, expressed concerns about the polarised environment and the narrowed political space surrounding the upcoming referendum.

Voting will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the outcome will give or deny the new constitution an electoral seal of legitimacy.

The outcome of the referendum is essential to national elections and democracy in Egypt.

Meanwhile, army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who deposed Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected head of state is a favourite among many circles to run for president and perhaps win.

"Egypt is on the threshold of a decisive stage in its history, the results of which are awaited by the world.

"If I run, then it must be at the request of the people, and with a mandate from my army," Al-Sisi said on Sunday.

Al-Sisi deposed Morsi on July 3 following mass protests against his rule, and now the public reaction to the newly proposed referendum will determine the direction of Egypt's politics.

"What will count is the percentage of Egyptians who go. It will be very clear to the whole world whether this was a revolution against Morsi or a coup d'etat," Hassan Nafaa, a professor of political science at Cairo University told reporters.

The new constitution replaces controversial religious language and strengthens the role of the military, the police and the judiciary in the political process.

Morsi had stripped some of these powers, and added Islamic precepts.

It remains to be seen how the Muslim Brotherhood, once a powerful party in Egypt will respond to the referendum or its results.

On December 25, 2013, the Muslim Brotherhood was declared a terrorist organisation, and outlawed was in Egypt.


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