Egyptians who voted in a referendum this week overwhelmingly approved a new constitution, official sources said, citing early results of a ballot that could set the stage for army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to declare his candidacy for president, the Reuters website reports today (January 16, 2014).
About 90 percent of the voters approved the constitution, the state news agency and a government official said. The constitution won wide support among Egyptians who backed the army overthrow of President Mohamed Mursi last July.
Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood -- which is expected to dispute the official numbers -- had called for a boycott of the two-day vote, seeing it as part of a coup against a leader freely elected 18 months ago. It had called for anti-government protests, which resulted in the arrest of 444 people during the two days of voting.
The referendum has been seen as a public vote of confidence in Sisi, the 59-year-old widely seen as the most powerful figure in Egypt since he removed Mursi and won massive popularity among the Egyptians who staged mass protests against his rule in June.