Islamists spurn Egypt's new charter, say referendum will be rigged

Ahram Online, Wednesday 4 Dec 2013

Coalition of Islamists led by Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood says rewriting of charter is 'absurd', claims upcoming referendum will be rigged

Members of the assembly writing Egypt's new constitution vote on an article at the Shura Council in Cairo December 1, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

A coalition of Islamists has said it rejects the country's newly amended constitution, but has stopped short of saying it will boycott a forthcoming referendum it claims will be rigged.

The National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, a pro-Morsi coalition led by his Muslim Brotherhood movement, labeled the rewriting of the charter "absurd" and "illegal," adding it does not accept any procedure stemming from the military "coup" that ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July.

The coalition claimed the new document had sabotaged "clearly defined" freedoms, rights and identity issues defined by the constitution drafted in 2012 by an Islamist-dominated panel and signed into a law by Morsi after a referendum.

The constitution panel finalised the draft charter early this week and handed it over to interim president Adly Mansour for approval on Tuesday. It will be put to a referendum in January.

The upcoming "referendum will be a true copy of the rigged polls under [former president] Hosni Mubarak," read the coalition's statement on Wednesday, which was also carried on the official Facebook page of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party.

Ballot rigging was commonplace under Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for three decades until he was swept from power in the 2011 uprising. Morsi was elected president in Egypt's first free vote in 2012.

The referendum will be a mere formality that will squander billions merely to "polish the image of the coup leaders and receive undue recognition from the West, which conspires with them," the statement added.

It was not immediately clear, however, whether the group plans to boycott the poll, slated for early or mid-January, or campaign for a 'No' vote.

The Brotherhood says it wants nothing to do with the interim government's transition plan. The movement has been battered by the toughest crackdown in its decades-long history. Authorities have arrested most of its top leaders along with thousands other Islamists, and hundreds of its supporters have been killed since a mid-August raid on two Islamist sit-ins in Cairo.

The group said last month it was open to dialogue to end Egypt's bloody political crisis, on condition that authorities halt their crackdown and detainees are released, a move that was not embraced by the country's interim leaders.

The US has suspended a large part of its $1.5 billion cash and military aid to Egypt over violence that followed Morsi's exit, but has stopped short of calling his ouster a coup.

Last month, US Secretary of State John Kerry accused the Brotherhood of stealing Egypt's revolution, in some of his toughest remarks about Egypt's oldest and biggest Islamist movement.

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