Egyptian voters have passed a raft of constitutional amendments by an overwhelming majority, according to official results
More than 77 percent of the 18.5-million voters who went to the polls were in favor of the amendments, the country's supreme judicial committee said.
There were nine constitutional amendments that Egyptians passes, including relaxing the requirements imposed upon independent candidates who seek the presidency, while another provides full judicial oversight over elections. Other measures call for a limit of two four-year terms for the president (currently there is no limit) and the necessity of calling public referendum for any state of emergency that endures longer than six months.
Another provision will require the new parliament to appoint a constitutional assembly within six months of taking office. That group will draft a wholly new constitution, which – subject to approval in a separate referendum – would come into effect next year.
Perhaps most importantly, the passed vote will allow for a quick parliamentary election as early as June.
The voter turnout of about 41 percent was far better than in past elections. Last year, for example, in a parliamentary election marred by accusations of fraud, voter turnout was anywhere between 10 percent and 25 percent.
However, the judicial committee said it disqualified about 171,000 votes, without explaining why.
Margaret Scobey, the U.S. ambassador to Egypt, called the referendum was an important step towards realizing the aspirations of the 25 January revolution.
Across the country, however, there appears to be split over the referendum.
While the two primary political entities on the country, the former ruling National Democratic Party and the Muslim Brotherhood, both urged a yes vote on the referendum; other opposition parties, including youth activity parties, recommended a “no” vote, complaining that the proposed changes do not go far enough.
Pro-democracy activitists (who were instrumental in toppling former President Hosni Mubarak) want a new constitution to be entirely rewritten prior to presidential and parliamentary elections.