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Egyptian Constitutional Referendum Appears To Have Passed

In Egypt, voters appear to have approved the controversial draft referendum on a proposed constitution in the first stage of the referendum held across half of the country yesterday.

The outcome is unofficial at this point as the government has said it will not announce official results until the referendum concludes in the rest of Egypt next Saturday. The vote is being held in two stages because a boycott by many judges who were supposed to supervise the elections. Those boycotting say they reject the constitution because it doesn't have a national consensus.

Major supporters and opponents of the constitution posted varying accounts of yesterday's vote on their websites, although most reported the constitution had received a majority "yes" vote.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which is the key power in Egyptian government, reported on its website that nearly 77 percent voted in favor of the draft constitution. A major rival political party, the secular Al-Wafd, reported the document received a smaller majority of 57 percent.

Egyptian state-run TV said on its website that 68 percent and 72 percent of voters cast "no" ballots in the country's two largest cities — Cairo and Alexandria.

The Brotherhood, however, reported 78 percent of voters in Alexandria approved the constitution.

Voter turnout was so high in some areas that election officials extended polling station hours from 7 to 11 p.m. Several voting irregularities were reported, including invalid ballots and voters not being allowed into some polling stations.

Also, the turnout reported by the Brotherhood showed far fewer voters turning out than appeared to be the case at polling stations across Cairo and Alexandria.

The opposition National Salvation Front was quoted by the state-run al-Ahram newspaper as saying it rejected any counts that went on before voting stations were closed. According to al-Ahram, the Front claims the referendum was actually rejected with 66 percent of the vote.

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