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Egypt: Low Turnout In Referendum On Constitutional Amendments
Egypt is witnessing a low turnout in the referendum on the constitutional amendments after the ruling NDP decided to do it alone, giving a deaf ear to all political powers that called for a boycott. Amid an unprecedented heavy security presence in the Egyptian capital Cairo and large cities in various governorates nationwide, the referendum process on the constitutional amendments
Monday, March 26,2007 00:00
by Ikhwanweb

Egypt is witnessing a low turnout in the referendum on the constitutional amendments after the ruling NDP decided to do it alone, giving a deaf ear to all political powers that called for a boycott.
 
Amid an unprecedented heavy security presence in the Egyptian capital Cairo and large cities in various governorates nationwide, the referendum process on the constitutional amendments started with a low turnout after the Muslim Brotherhood group and another number of opposition parties declared boycotting it; the boycott has been declared due to the fact that the amendments on 34 articles increase tyranny and autocratic rule in the country and violate freedoms and rights of a political participation for all powers in Egypt .
 
The Egyptian government deployed thousands of security elements in Cairo, while opposition groups, that tried shortly before the referendum to express its anger at the amendments, faced human rights violations under these security elements; the police beat a group of demonstrators in central Cairo regions .
 
Most Egyptian universities as well as cities of Al Fayyum, Shibin Al Kawm and Al-Arish witnessed demonstrations against the amendments, in which thousands of students and citizens took part under a heavy security blockade; Kifaya movement called for holding other demonstrations today, on the day of the referendum, in Cairo and other governorates, including Alexandria, Suez, Mansoura, and Al Behera.
 
Some other demonstrations are staged by the Egyptian communities abroad, in London, Washington and New York.
 
For his part, Abdul Halim Kandeel, spokesman for Kifaya Movement, told Ikhwanweb that these demonstrations are a challenge to the Egyptian regime’s orders of preventing any opposition rally in the street; Kandeel pointed out that Egypt, including all its political movements, boycotts this referendum, specially after the Administrative Court issued a ruling of canceling the referendum in addition to throwing 4 thousand political detainees from Kifaya and the Muslim Brotherhood behind bars, because of organizing peaceful demonstrations; the Kifaya spokesman confirmed that the movement sticks to its right of demonstrating although this heavy security presence can seal off all the country.
 
The Muslim Brotherhood called, to be in sync with other Egyptian opposition groups and parties, boycotting the referendum, confirming that the referendum will be rigged because there is no full judicial supervision on the voting and the vote-count processes which will be carried out by ordinary employees in most committees.
 
Observers say that the amendments aim mainly at excluding the Islamic political movement from the political process in Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood’s landslide victory in 2005 legislative elections; the amendments have been slammed by foreign countries, specially The United States, in clear contradiction to the Egyptian government’s claims that the amendments are part of a wide political reform process in the country.
 
In a related context, the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) is struggling to hide the low turnout in the referendum, a low rate which was expected even by NDP leaders, including Gamal Mubarak, the secretary general of the policies committee secretary in the party said that:" The rate of the participation of eleigible voters in the referendum held today on some constitutional amendments can’t exceed 20 % or 30 %; this is attributed to a limited number of voting centers in which a judge will supervise the voting and the vote-count.

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