16 Jan 2014

Counting begins in Egypt referendum

3:51 pm on 16 January 2014

Counting is taking place after Egypt's two-day referendum on a new constitution, with the military-backed authorities forecasting an overwhelming vote in favour of their proposals.

The interior ministry estimates the yes vote to be about 95%.

A woman shows her ink-stained finger after voting in Alexandria.

A woman shows her ink-stained finger after voting in Alexandria. Photo: AFP

Egypt's government is desperate for a strong turnout in the country's third constitutional referendum in three years. It believes the document presents an opportunity to draw a line under a period of often violent turmoil, the BBC reports.

Voters are expected to endorse the removal of democratically elected Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

There is no serious doubt that the authorities will get the yes vote they crave - not least because supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood are boycotting the poll, rather than voting no.

Attention will focus on the level of participation. The army needs a strong turnout to endorse its own political powers, pave the way for its leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to eventually run for president.

The second day of voting on Wednesday passed off largely peacefully. Nine people died on Tuesday in clashes involving Mr Morsi's supporters. About 400 people are said to have been arrested over the two days for disrupting the vote.

The new charter is to replace the constitution passed during the rule of Mr Morsi before he was removed in July last year. It remains unclear when exactly full results will be announced.