CAIRO: Egypt’s military-installed authorities have hailed a “high turnout” in a constitutional referendum as a sign of strong approval of the army’s ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.
Initial tallies reported by state media on Thursday (Friday in Manila) suggested more than 90 percent of voters approved the new constitution in the two-day referendum on Tuesday and Wednesday, with a 39 percent turn out in most provinces.
The official results are expected on Saturday.
Given a boycott by the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, the result of the referendum has never been in doubt, but the military-installed government was hoping for a large turnout to bolster its democratic credentials after the overthrow of Morsi in July.
The government said it was aiming for a larger turnout than the 33 percent of 53 million registered voters who approved a constitution under Morsi in 2012.
Analysts say a turnout higher than that will decide the future of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the army chief who toppled Morsi following mass protests against his one-year rule, was also monitoring the vote for a sign of support as he mulls running for the presidency, officials said.
It was the first vote since Morsi’s ouster, and authorities say the new constitution provides greater protection for freedom of speech and women’s rights than the one adopted under him.
Egypt’s presidency hailed a “high turnout,” although it gave no figures.
The president’s spokesman Ehab Badawy “remarked, on the high turnout in the refer–endum, that it was a beautiful day for Egypt and democracy,” a statement said.
The government said the vote showed support for Morsi’s overthrow.
“This was also a referendum on June 30,” said government spokesman Hany Salah, referring to the day when millions of protesters took to the streets demanding Morsi’s resignation.
A coalition led by Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, which has organized near daily rallies against his overthrow, claimed the referendum was a “farce” and pledged further protests.
“We will continue the days of rage,” the Anti-Coup Alliance said in a statement.
A student was killed on Thurs–day in clashes between pro-Morsi students and opponents inside Cairo University campus, the interior ministry said.
The United States (US) admin–istration is closely watching the results of Egypt’s referendum, but has not yet decided whether to unfreeze some $1.5 billion in aid to its military-installed leaders, a US official said.