An Egyptian woman casts her ballot south of Cairo, on December 22.
An Egyptian woman casts her ballot south of Cairo, on December 22.

Story highlights

The Muslim Brotherhood says 64% of the vote was in favor

The semi-official al-Ahram newspaper has a similar result

The official results are not expected until later Sunday

Saturday was the second round of voting

CNN —  

With nearly all of the vote counted, the referendum on Egypt’s new constitution appeared to be victorious early Sunday, according to unofficial tallies by the Muslim Brotherhood and the semi-official al-Ahram newspaper.

The Muslim Brotherhood said its “final results” show 64% of the vote in favor of the constitution and 36% against it.

Al-Ahram posted a similar outcome on its website, saying it was based on 98% of the votes counted.

The official outcome of the referendum is not expected to be announced until later Sunday.

Voters went to the polls Saturday in a second round of voting, this time in 17 provinces largely loyal to President Mohamed Morsy and his ruling party.

The first round of voting occurred about a week ago in more liberal provinces such as Cairo. In that round, the referendum passed with 57% of the vote.

The Supreme Electoral Commission plans to publicize the official results in a news conference.

In days leading up to the vote, a deeply divided Egypt took to the streets.

For a second week, clashes broke out Friday in the coastal Mediterranean city of Alexandria between Muslim Brotherhood protesters, who were supporting Morsy, and opposition demonstrators.

Hurtling stones injured 80, according to official news agency Egynews. Riot police intervened and fired tear gas.

Last week’s confrontation was triggered by the imam’s call urging demonstrators to back the constitution.

Opposition groups have reported allegations of widespread abuses including voter intimidation, bribery and other violations.

Turnout for both weeks of voting was high. Security was tight, and voting happened peacefully.

Critics of the constitution say it was passed too quickly. Liberals, Christians and other minority opposition groups say they felt excluded from the Constituent Assembly that drafted it . They say the wording does not include their voices, and want a new assembly.

Opposition members say the charter uses vague language and will not protect the rights Egyptians fought for in last year’s revolution, which ousted former President Hosni Mubarak.

Supporters of the constitution herald what they say is its protection of personal rights, especially its provisions on handling of detainees in the judicial system, which made capricious use of its powers under the former government.

International rights group Human Rights Watch said the constitution “protects some rights but undermines others.” It “fails to end military trials of civilians or to protect freedom of expression and religion.”

The rocky road to the referendum began when judges threatened to shut down the assembly tasked with drafting the constitution. Morsy then issued an edict in late November declaring all of his past and present decisions immune from judicial review until the holding of the constitutional referendum.

He also sacked the head of the judiciary, which had many members who were still loyal to Mubarak.

Protesters took to the streets, saying the decision is dictatorial.

Morsy dropped his decree, but the situation remained tense. Violence raged, producing incidents that have raised the ire of international human rights groups, though these have not been systematic, as was the case under the former government.

The outcome of the election is important to the stability of volatile North Africa and the Middle East – where Egypt is a key player.