Egyptians vote in final round of disputed constitution poll

Egyptians vote in final round of disputed constitution poll

More than 25 million eligible Egyptians were called to cast their ballots Saturday in the final phase of a referendum on a disputed draft constitution that has sparked angry protests, dpa reported.

President Mohammed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies say the charter will fast-track the country's transition to democracy, from the authoritarian rule of president Hosny Mubarak, who was deposed almost two years ago.

The opposition says the constitution, which was drafted by an Islamist-led constituent assembly, could undermine political rights and sideline minorities.

Voting was taking place in 17 electoral districts that are considered to be broadly conservative, meaning a yes vote is expected to prevail.

About 57 per cent of those who voted in the first round of the referendum, on December 15, approved the document, according to unofficial results.

On Saturday, voters were again queuing up in large numbers outside polls, reported the state-run newspaper al-Ahram online. Polling stations were due to close at 7 pm (1700 GMT).

The final result is to be determined by the majority of the valid ballots cast in both rounds, according to the electoral commission.

If the constitution is adopted, it will clear the way for legislative elections within 60 days. The Islamist-dominated Shura Council, or upper house, will be given the authority to legislate until a new legislature is elected.

If the charter is voted down, an election will be called within three months to pick a new assembly to draft a new constitution.

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