Egypt constitution passes, Brotherhood says

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CAIRO -- Egypt's Islamist-backed constitution received a "yes" majority in a final round of voting on a referendum that saw a low voter turnout, but the deep divisions it has opened up threaten to fuel continued turmoil.

Passage is a victory for Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, but a costly one. The bruising battle over the past month stripped away hope that the long-awaited constitution would bring a national consensus on the path Egypt will take after shedding its autocratic ruler Hosni Mubarak nearly two years ago.

Instead, Morsi disillusioned many non-Islamists who had once backed him and has become more reliant on his core support in the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists.

Yesterday's voting in 17 of Egypt's 27 provinces was the second and final round of the referendum. Preliminary results released early Sunday by Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood showed that 71.4 percent of those who voted Saturday said "yes" after 95.5 percent of the ballots were counted. Only about eight million of the 25 million Egyptians eligible to vote -- a turnout of about 30 percent -- cast their ballots. The Brotherhood has accurately predicted election results in the past by tallying results provided by its representatives at polling centers.

In the first round of voting, about 56 percent said "yes" to the charter. The turnout then was about 32 percent.

The results of the two rounds mean the referendum was approved by about 63 percent.

Morsi's liberal and secular opposition now faces the task of trying to organize the significant portion of the population angered by what it sees as attempts by Morsi and the Brotherhood to gain a lock on political power.

In a sign of disarray in Morsi's administration, his vice president and -- possibly -- the central bank governor resigned during Saturday's voting. Vice President Mahmoud Mekki's resignation had been expected since his post is eliminated under the new constitution.

The status of Central Bank Governor Farouq el-Oqdah was murkier. State TV first reported his resignation, then soon after reported the Cabinet denied he has stepped down in a possible sign of confusion.

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