Cairo, 4 Shafar 1434/17 December 2012 (MINA) – Islamist supporters of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi have claimed victory after the first day of voting in a referendum on the country’s draft constitution, according to international news agencies and the other online media monitored by Mi’raj News Agency.
Morsi’s Freedom and Justice Party said in a statement posted on its website that 56.5 percent of those who voted on Saturday had cast their ballots in favor of the draft constitution. A senior party official told the Reuters news agency that this figure was based on unofficial tallies provided by returning officers. He said the count included results from 99 percent of the polling stations in the 10 provinces involved in Saturday’s voting.
Egyptian media reported similar figures, based on unofficial results.
The opposition though, provided differing figures. Shortly after the polls closed, the National Salvation Front, a coalition of opposition groups, claimed two-thirds of voters had rejected the constitution. However, one of its main groups, the Popular Current, reported on its Facebook page that around 56 percent had voted in favor of the draft, with most of the votes counted.
While emotions ran high leading up to the controversial referendum, with a series of demonstrations both against and for the constitution, Saturday’s voting appeared to be largely peaceful. However, a group of Islamists is reported to have attacked the offices of the newspaper of the opposition Wafd party on Saturday night.
Claims of voting irregularities
The committee supervising the referendum extended the vote by four hours beyond when the polls were originally meant to close, due to long lines of voters that remained outside of many polling stations.
The National Salvation Front also complained of alleged voter fraud, according to the AFP news agency. It cited reports of unsealed ballot enveloped and a judge preventing Christians from voting at one polling station in Cairo.
Germany’s DPA agency also reported a claim of voting irregularities from a prominent Egyptian human rights activist.
“All forms of fraud recorded in the era of [former President Hosni] Mubarak were seen again today,” Hafez Abu Saada told privately owned Dream TV.
The draft referendum, which was drafted by a legislative council dominated by members of the Islamist Freedom and Justice Party – the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood -is highly controversial.
The opposition has argued that if ratified, the constitution would undermine human rights in the country, particularly regarding women and religious minorities.
Electoral commission to investigate abuses
Meanwhile CNN reported with the first round of voting over, Egypt’s ruling Freedom and Justice Party declared Sunday that citizens had given their thumbs-up to a controversial draft constitution.
But a coalition of 123 local rights groups that monitored the Saturday referendum alleged widespread abuses.
And the nation’s electoral commission acknowledged that it received — and will investigate — complaints of voter intimidation, bribery and other violations.
The commission said it would not announce official results until after second phase of voting December 22.
But that didn’t stop President Mohamed Morsi’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) from claiming that 56.6% of the ballots were in favor of the draft; while 43.5% rejected it.
The big turnout in Alexandria — Egypt’s second most populous city and a stronghold of conservative Muslims — appears to have made a big difference in tilting the preliminary results towards a ‘yes’ vote, party members said.
“The democratic process in this first phase of this referendum … stresses the people’s desire to reach political and constitutional stability, despite all the unjust and harsh smear campaigns,” the party statement said. “The process took place in an atmosphere full of integrity, transparency, and under full judicial supervision as well as presence of local and international media and human rights groups.”
Ten of the nation’s 27 provinces voted in the referendum Saturday. The remaining provinces will hold their referendum in the second round.
“There were cases of voter intimidation, delaying the voting process, and early closure of some voting centers with no clear reasons,” the Egyptian Coalition for Monitoring Elections said in a statement late Saturday.
The government-funded National Council for Human Rights backed up some claims of minor violations, including early closure of voting stations.
Egypt constitution referendum unofficial results: ‘Yes’ 56.5 pct
Ahram Online reported, unofficial final results of the constitution referendum’s first round show a 56.5 per cent approval for the draft charter while ‘No’ votes reached 43.5 per cent.
“Yes”: 4,595,311 (56.50 per cent)
“No”: 3,536,838 (43.50 per cent)
Note: All results are from governorates’ presiding judges, except Cairo’s, which are from the tallies of the Freedom and Justice Party, the Popular Current operation centre and Al-Jazeera TV network. The final official result is to be announced after the second round, due on 22 December.
05:47 Final count in Cairo according to FJP:
“Yes”: 950,532 (43.1 per cent)
“No”: 1,256,248 (56.9 per cent)
04:44 Final count in Assiut:
“Yes”: 449,431 (76.08 per cent)
“No”: 141,244 (23.92 per cent)
04:25 The vote tally in the ten governorates so far after votes were counted in 6274 out of 6376 polling stations, according to Ikhwanweb:
“Yes”: 4,558,953 (56.5 per cent)
“No”: 3,508,751 (43.5 per cent)
04:20 Final count in Sharqiya:
“Yes”: 736,929 (65.94 per cent)
“No”: 380,520 (34.16 per cent)
04:10 The vote tally in the ten governorates so far, according to Ikhwanweb:
“Yes”: 4,340,493 (57.3 per cent)
“No”: 3,240,604 (42.7 per cent)
04:08 Final count in Aswan:
“Yes”: 149,020 (76.65 per cent)
“No”: 45,396 (23.35 per cent)
04:07 The vote tally in the ten governorates so far, according to Al-Hayat television after 65% of vote count:
“Yes”: 2,796,458 (57.2 per cent)
“No”: 2,094,523 (42.8 per cent)
03:55 Final count in North Sinai:
“Yes”: 50,726 (78.06 per cent)
“No”: 14,256 (21.94 per cent)
03:48 Final count in Sohag:
“Yes”: 468,138 (79 per cent)
“No”: 125,810 (21 per cent)
03:40 Final count in Daqahliya:
“Yes”: 647,489 (55.1 per cent)
“No”: 525,713 (44.9 per cent)
03:30 Ikhwanweb’s final count in Alexandria:
“Yes”: 665,985 (55.6 per cent)
“No”: 531,221 (44.4 per cent)
03:17 The Nile Delta governorate of Gharbiya, home to the industrial hub of Mahalla Al-Kubra, votes against the draft constitution.
Al-Hayat television’s final count in Gharbiya:
“No”: 509,972 (52.13 per cent)
“Yes”: 468,243 (49.87 per cent)
03:14 Al-Hayat television’s final count in South Sinai:
“Yes”: 8818 (57.72 per cent)
“No”: 6458 (42.48 per cent)
03:06 In the Nile Delta governorate of Daqahliya, 55.9 per cent voted “yes” and 44.1 per cent voted “no” after votes were counted in 1021 out of the 1032 polling stations, according to Al-Ahram’s Arabic news site.
02:39 According to updates from the Muslim Brotherhood’s official website Ikhwanweb, results across the ten governorates after votes were counted in 3804 out of the total 6376 polling stations indicate that 60.9 per cent (2,676,749 votes) voted “yes” while 39.1 per cent (1,717,866 votes) voted “no.”
02:16 In the Nile Delta governorate of Daqahliya, Al-Jazeera television has tabulated results from 979 out of the 1032 polling stations. The “yes” vote has so far received 628,188 of the vote (55.92 per cent) while the “no” vote has received 494,992 of the vote (44.08 per cent).
02:13 In President Mohamed Morsi’s hometown in the Sharqiya Governorate, only 156 people voted “no” while an overwhelming 3271 voted “yes”, according to Al-Ahram’s Arabic news website.
02:01 In Mansoura, the largest city in the Nile Delta governorate of Daqahliya, 5000 people (34.71 per cent) voted “yes” while 9505 (65.29 per cent) voted “no,” after votes were counted in nine polling stations, according to Al-Ahram’s Arabic news site.
01:51 In the Upper Egyptian governorate of Sohag, votes have been counted in 628 out of the 635 polling stations. Results so far indicate that 79 per cent of the voters were in favour of the draft constitution while 21 per cent were against, according to Al-Hayat television.
01:48 Preliminary reports from Al-Jazeera in North Sinai indicate that 79 per cent voted “yes” while 21 per cent voted “no” after “most” of the votes were counted.
Al-Jazeera reports from South Sinai show that 64 per cent voted “yes” while 36 per cent voted “no”.
01:28 In its latest update, Ikhwanweb says votes have been counted in 2230 out of 6376 polling stations across the ten governorates participating in the first phase. The “yes” vote has thus far reached 65.6 per cent while the “no” vote has reached 34.4 per cent.
01:10 According to Al-Hayat television, in Egypt’s Nile Delta Gharbiya Governorate, the “yes” vote has reached 337,955 (52.15 per cent) and the “no” vote has reached 310,181 (47.85 per cent) after votes were counted in 610 out of 820 polling stations.
01:02 The Muslim Brotherhood states on its English-language Twitter account that votes are have been counted in 1875 out of the 6376 polling stations.
“Yes’ votes are 64.5 per cent and ‘no’ are 35.4 per cent,” the Brotherhood’s official Ikhwanweb site reported.
12:47 According to Al-Hayat television, in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Aswan, the “yes” vote has reached 10,458 (86.58 per cent) and the “no” vote has reached 1,620 (13.42 per cent), after votes were counted in 21 polling stations.
12:30 According to Al-Hayat television, in the Egypt’s Nile Delta Gharbiya Governorate, votes have been tallied in 488 out of the 820 polling stations. “Yes” votes are currently at 260,525 (53.66 per cent) and “no” votes are at 224,934 (46.34 per cent).
12:15 The Muslim Brotherhood says on its English-language Twitter account that votes had already been counted in 1385 out of 6376 polling stations in ten governorates.
“‘Yes’ votes are 65 per cent and ‘no’ are 35 per cent,” the Brotherhood’s official Ikhwanweb site reported.
12:00 Al-Jazeera television report that 83.9 per cent have voted “yes” and 16.1 per cent voted “no” after 50 per cent of the votes were counted in the Sohag Governorate in Upper Egypt.
As the first phase of Egypt’s constitutional referendum draws to a close, a resilient yet pensive mood was palpable among many voters. This contrasts with Egypt’s previous post-uprising referendums and polls, during which most voters could be seen smiling and proudly showing off their ink-stained fingers to news cameras.
Most voters who spoke to Ahram Online on Saturday expressed fear that, regardless of the outcome of the current constitutional poll, the coming period in Egypt would be ridden by political conflict and strife.
“There will be no stability in any case; this is a process that will take a long time,” said one voter in the capital’s Old Cairo district. Divisions between supporters of President Mohamed Morsi and the opposition run deep; in some cases, fistfights erupted outside polling stations between members of Egypt’s two rival camps.
In addition to several reported violations, with some polling stations closing their doors much earlier than scheduled, many voters expressed frustration with the long lines and insufficient numbers of judges to supervise balloting. Some voters expressed the belief that voters were intentionally made to queue longer than necessary to dissuade them from casting their votes.
A few hours before the closure of polling stations nationwide, Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC) Secretary-General Zaghloul El-Balshi said that some 50 per cent of the 25 million registered voters in the ten governorates that cast ballots in the first phase of the poll had already voted.
The poll was largely trouble-free, but violence erupted late on Saturday when the Cairo headquarters of the liberal Wafd Party was attacked by unknown assailants. It remains unclear whether the attack was related to the constitutional referendum.
Mohamed Tharwat, managing editor of the Wafd Party’s news website, pointed the finger at prominent Salafist preacher Hazem Abu-Ismail, but the latter quickly denied any responsibility for the attack. (T/HSH/R-022/R-006)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)