Muslim Brotherhood calls for protests ahead of Egyptian constitutional referendum's result
Muslim Brotherhood calls for protests ahead of Egyptian constitutional referendum's result

Muslim Brotherhood , the main backers of ousted Egyptian President "Mohammad Morsi" called for protests Friday ahead of the release of results from a constitutional referendum they mocked as a return to the bad old days of authoritarianism.

The Brotherhood, which called a boycott of the vote, described it as a farce and predicted it would culminate in the sort of massive electoral fraud that characterised the three-decade rule of Hosni Mubarak.

Flagship state-owned daily Al-Ahram hailed a 98 percent vote in support of the new charter drawn up the interim authorities to replace the Islamist-inspired one adopted under Morsi's rule in December 2012.

The outcome had never been in doubt in the face of the Islamists' boycott of a vote they regarded as a bid to legitimise Morsi's overthrow.

Attention was focused instead on turnout among Egypt's 53 million registered voters, all the more so because aides of army chief "Abdel Fattah al-Sisi" have said it will be a key "indicator" for him in determining whether to stand for the presidency himself in an election promised for later this year.

Preliminary tallies suggested turnout had reached 39 percent in most provinces in the two days of polling on Tuesday and Wednesday, sharply up on the 33 percent registered in the Morsi-era referendum just over a year ago.

The office of interim president "Adly Mansour" hailed a "high turnout" in the vote on a new charter it says gives new protections for free speech and women's rights, although it gave no figures.

"It was a beautiful day for Egypt and democracy", said Mansour's spokesman Ehab Badawy.

The government said the vote showed support for Morsi's overthrow. "This was also a referendum on June 30", said government spokesman Hany Salah, referring to the day when millions of protesters took to the streets demanding Morsi's resignation.

But the Islamist opposition mocked the figures put out by state media and called for mass demonstrations on Saturday of next week, the third anniversary of Mubarak's overthrow, to protest what they charged was a return to the mockery of democracy that characterised his rule.

It said "let the putschists deceive themselves and hold fools' celebrations", adding "the whole world laughs at them as they bring back six decades' corruption and fraud, and the usual 99.99% results in all elections in their favour -- of course".

The Egyptian government has designated the Brotherhood a "terrorist organization", making even expressions of verbal support punishable by heavy prison sentences.


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