Egyptians vote in controversial constitution referendum

Saturday, December 15, 2012
Map displaying provinces of Egypt as people votes
 on a new constitution [Image/gfx © google map]
Cairo: Egyptians on Saturday begins voting in referendum on a draft constitution, with no major violence reported. 

The voting will see half of Egypt's 51 million electoral heading to ballots for the controversial constitution. The next phase will take place on December 22.

President Muhammad Morsi and his Islamic backers say the document will push the nation closer to democracy nearly two years after the fall of former leader Hosni Mubarak.

But opponents of the draft constitution -- including liberals, secularists, and Christians - say the document is too Islamist and hurts rights.

In Alexandria on December 14, there were clashes between supporters and opponents of Morsi, some of them armed with clubs, knives and swords.

The constitution and a Morsi decree -- now rescinded -- to grant himself powers above the law have sparked Egypt's biggest crisis since the toppling of Mubarak.

The Presidential Palace in Cairo is still ringed by police and tanks after street clashes earlier this month there left at least eight dead.

The vote on December 15 is taking place in 10 provinces, including Cairo and the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria.
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