Ho Chi Minh; Ho Chi Minnie

Ho Chi Minh; Ho Chi Minnie
The Four Sisters to the North

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The nation of Egypt's credit is backed by 50 billion barrels of oil and the tourist industry. The military government of Egypt is right in this regard. Radical Pyramid extremists cannot rule in a nation of Giza Pyramids.

Egypt’s New Constitution Approved by 98 Percent of Voters

Photographer: Mustafa Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Polling station officials count ballots after the second day of voting on the... Read More

Egypt’s new constitution was approved by about 98 percent of voters in a referendum the army-backed government called a key step in its plan to transition the nation to democracy after Mohamed Mursi’s ouster.
Voter turnout was 38.6 percent, Nabil Salib, head of the Supreme Election Commission, told reporters in Cairo, with about 20 million of 53 million eligible citizens casting ballots. The two-day referendum was boycotted by the Muslim Brotherhood, which fielded Mursi for the presidency and denounced the vote as an attempt to legitimize a military coup. At least four people were killed and 15 wounded in clashes yesterday between security forces and Islamists, the Health Ministry said.
“What’s important in the constitution is not its meaning, but its credibility on the ground and what it guarantees in terms of the principles of justice and equality among all Egyptians,” Salib said.
The constitution, drafted by a panel dominated by secularists, is designed to replace a charter approved with a 33 percent turnout under Mursi and written by a mostly Islamist committee.
Presidential and parliamentary elections will follow later this year.

Higher Turnout

The vote is the first since the military intervention. The man who led Mursi’s ouster, army chief Abdelfatah al-Seesi, hasn’t ruled out running for president. Turnout was key for the military-backed government, with local media billing a higher turnout than for the constitutional vote under Mursi, a sign that Egyptians are supporting the proposed road map to take the country to democracy after the June 30 uprising.
For the government, which has been grappling with near-daily protests and clashes amid a heavy crackdown on the Brotherhood, the vote marks a milestone. Authorities, backed by the media and businessmen, pressed hard for a “yes” vote, with commercials airing on television, billboards posted across Cairo and other cities and authorities equating support for the charter as a rejection of “terrorism.”
“On one level, this does provide a short-term boost for the military and the interim government,” said Hani Sabra, Mideast director at the Eurasia Group in New York, noting that officials can say they held the vote essentially on schedule and as promised. While overall turnout wasn’t significantly higher than that of the referendum under Mursi, the overwhelming support this charter secured is what authorities will stress, he said.

International Reserves

Even so, the “fundamental structural problems that Egypt faces remain unaddressed,” Sabra said, citing the country’s economic and political challenges and the polarization after the 2011 uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak and deepened after Mursi’s ouster.
Those challenges, which include international reserves currently at around 50 percent of their pre-2011 uprising levels, will not be resolved with the presidential and parliamentary elections that are planned for later this year. “They will take years to address,” Sabra said.
While the referendum was billed as a milestone, activists and rights groups voiced worries about what they described as a crackdown on those lobbying for a “no” vote.
Bethesda, Maryland-based Democracy International, which sent more than 80 observers to the vote, said it had “serious concerns” about the referendum.
“There was no real opportunity for those opposed to the government’s road map or the proposed constitution to dissent,” Democracy International President Eric Bjornlund said in a statement yesterday on the organization’s website.
Salib indicated that turnout would have been higher had the two-day vote not coincided with university examinations.
To contact the reporters on this story: Tarek El-Tablawy in Cairo atteltablawy@bloomberg.net; Abdel Latif Wahba in Cairo atalatifwahba@bloomberg.net
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria atnseria@bloomberg.net

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