Opposition marches to protest poll violations, reject draft constitution

Osman El Sharnoubi, Tuesday 18 Dec 2012

Opposition groups holding multiple marches in Cairo on Tuesday to condemn polling violation during first phase of constitutional poll, rejecting draft charter

Demonstration against draft constitution
Hundreds demonstrate in Cairo at Nasser City's Rabaa El-Adaweya Mosque against draft constitution (Photo:Mai Shaheen)

Hundreds of protesters march in Cairo on Tuesday to condemn violations during the first phase of the constitutional referendum and to reject the draft charter.

A few hundred protesters kicked off the march at 4pm from El-Nour and Rabaa El-Adawya mosque in Nasr City, heading to the presidential palace in Heliopolis.

While two marches starting from Shubra Square and Cairo's Mohandessin Mostafa Mahmoud mosque are on their way to Tahrir.

The marches were called for by the National Salvation Front (NSF), an umbrella organization of opposition groups, to "prevent the forging of the voters’ will."

The Egyptian Popular Current, a member of the NSF, called for Tuesday's marches to continue to the Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC) headquarters after they converge at the presidential palace.

A march in Giza's working class district of Imbaba is also scheduled for 7pm local time to encourage residents to vote against the constitution referendum on Saturday, 22 December.

The march was called for by ten political groups, including the Revolutionary Socialists, Strong Egypt Party,  the Six April Youth Movement and Socialist Popular Alliance to denounce what they described as "the Brotherhood's constitution."

Unofficial results show 56.5 per cent voted in favour of the referendum in the first phase of the referendum on 15 December. Voter turnout was around 31 per cent, according to reports.

The NSF said 1500 violations were officially reported with the police and 7400 were documented by rights monitors during voting on Saturday.

The NSF said the Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC), headed by Judge Zaghloul El-Balshi, should investigate the violations.

Violations included banning monitors from entering some polling stations, delaying voting and a general lack of judicial supervision at polling stations. There were also reports of supervisors falsely identifying themselves as judges.

The SEC on Monday said it would investigate reports of violations and announce its findings at the same time as the referendum results.

A majority of judges refused to oversee the ballot in protest at President Mohamed Morsi's 22 November constitutional decree.

Members of the higher council of the Egyptian State Council's judges club on Monday said they would not supervise the second phase of the poll due to the violations committed in the first phase.

The Egyptian State Council was one of the few judicial authorities that had agreed to supervise the referendum.

The Judges Club’s general assembly boycotted the election and before the poll claimed 90 per cent of its member would refrain from overseeing the poll.

The NSF has called for the second phase of voting to be postponed because the lack of judicial supervision makes an honest vote impossible. However, it is still calling for Egyptians to take part in the poll and vote ‘No'.

Many groups rejected Egypt’s draft charter well before the referendum dates were announced.

The opposition and other independent groups said Islamists were monopolising the drafting process, and thus produced a draft constitution that will deter many freedoms should it be ratified.

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist groups dominated the Constituent Assembly, especially after a number of liberals, leftists and independents resigned.

President Morsi, who was a long-term member of the Muslim Brotherhood, is accused of dividing the nation after he ignored calls for the draft constitution to be rewritten by a more inclusive assembly.

The second phase of the referendum will take place in 17 governorates on 22 December, including in Giza which has the second highest number of voters after Cairo.

Short link: