Egypt: First Round of Egyptian Constitution Vote Marred, Rights Groups Say

Cairo — Key Egyptian rights groups called Sunday for a repeat of the first round of the constitutional referendum, alleging the vote was marred by widespread violations.

Representatives of seven rights groups charged that there was insufficient supervision by judges in Saturday’s vote in 10 of Egypt’s 27 provinces and independent monitors were prevented from witnessing vote counts.

The representatives also told a news conference that they had reports of individuals falsely identifying themselves as judges, of women prevented from voting and that members of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood were allowed inside polling stations. They also complained that some polling centres closed earlier than scheduled and that Christians were denied entry to polling stations.

Islamists who back the disputed charter claimed they were in the lead with a majority of “yes” votes.

An official tweet by the Brotherhood said its tallies showed nearly 57 percent of voters said “yes” to the disputed charter, while about 43 percent voted “no.” The vote capped a near two-year struggle over Egypt’s identity since the ouster of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.

The latest crisis over the charter evolved into a fight — deadly at times — over whether Egypt should move toward a religious state under Morsi’s Brotherhood and their ultraconservative Salafi allies, or one that retains secular traditions and an Islamic character.

The second and final round of voting on the charter is planned for Saturday Dec. 22.