Muslim Brotherhood Claims Victory
18 December, 2012
Muslim Brotherhood claims victory in the referendum on constitution although only 33% of the voters went to polling booths in the 1st phase and the 2nd phase has not yet been completed. There are also allegations of unprecedented vote rigging including hundreds of polling rule violations and other irregularities. However, a senior Brotherhood leader has thanked Allah for the victory. In the industrial Nile Delta governorate of Gharbiya, voters’ verdict is against the draft constitution.
Ian Black reported from Cairo:
Recriminations have broken out over Egypt's constitutional referendum even before the two-stage vote has been completed, with the Muslim Brotherhood claiming victory and the opposition complaining of rigging and insisting the no camp has triumphed.
Unofficial overnight results from December 15 first round showed 56.5% approval to 43% rejection on a turnout of 33%, with a clear no win in Cairo, one of 10 of Egypt's governorates where polling took place. The referendum is to be held in the country's remaining 17 governorates December 22, 2012.
The Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood confirmed the referendum will be a victory for Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader who was elected president on a 51% mandate in June.
Gehad El-Haddad, a senior Brotherhood and FJP adviser, said: "We thank Allah and the people of Egypt for such honorable practice of democratic participation and, although approval [is] lower than expected, we are glad it's yes."
The opposition National Salvation Front (NSF) claimed 66% voted no to the controversial draft basic law. It said it had detected "unprecedented rigging", including 750 violations. These included unstamped voting papers, the names of deceased persons on voting lists, the absence of observers at polling stations, and delays in opening. The Egyptian Coalition for Human Rights reported cases of financial inducements for voting yes.
Mohamed ElBaradei, the coordinator of the NSF, warned in a Twitter message: "Country split, flagrant irregularities, low turnout, disillusion with Islamists on the rise. Illiteracy remains a hurdle."
Violence erupted on December 15 night when the Cairo headquarters of the liberal Wafd party, part of the NSF, came under attack from unknown assailants. Wafd accused the Salafist preacher Hazem Abu-Ismail of being involved but he denied any responsibility.
Muslim Brotherhood’s secular and liberal opponents including many Muslims say they object to Morsi’s undemocratic and non-consensual behavior and an ambiguous constitution flawed by what it says or implies about the role of Islam and clerical scholars, the position of the still-powerful army, presidential appointments, rights and other fundamental issues.
Independent Egyptian and foreign observers argue that a divided opposition has seized too gleefully on Morsi's miscalculations and vacillation and now risks raising the stakes with an escalation of the crisis.
A press report from Egypt provided the voting-figures of the 1st phase that show 67 percent of the voters have rejected MB’s call to vote “yes” in the referendum. The figures are the following:
Turnout: 33%, "Yes": 4,595,311 (56.50 percent), "No": 3,536,838 (43.50 percent)
All results are from governorates' presiding judges, except Cairo's, which are from the tallies of the Freedom and Justice Party, the Popular Current operation centre and Al-Jazeera TV network. The final official result is to be announced after the second round, due on 22 December.
The Nile Delta governorate of Gharbiya, home to the industrial hub of Mahalla Al-Kubra, votes against the draft constitution.
Al-Hayat television's final count in Gharbiya: "No": 509,972 (52.13 percent), "Yes": 468,243 (49.87 per cent).
In Mansoura, the largest city in the Nile Delta governorate of Daqahliya, 5000 people (34.71 percent) voted "yes" while 9505 (65.29 percent) voted "no," after votes were counted in nine polling stations, according to Al-Ahram's Arabic news site.
A resilient yet pensive mood was palpable among many voters. This contrasts with Egypt’s previous post-uprising referendums and polls, during which most voters could be seen smiling and proudly showing off their ink-stained fingers to news cameras.
In addition to several reported violations, with some polling stations closing their doors much earlier than scheduled, many voters expressed frustration with the long lines and insufficient numbers of judges to supervise balloting. Some voters expressed the belief that voters were intentionally made to queue longer than necessary to dissuade them from casting their votes.
The poll was largely trouble-free, but violence erupted late on Saturday when the Cairo headquarters of the liberal Wafd Party was attacked by unknown assailants. It remains unclear whether the attack was related to the constitutional referendum.
Mohamed Tharwat, managing editor of the Wafd Party’s news website, pointed the finger at prominent Salafist preacher Hazem Abu-Ismail, but the latter quickly denied any responsibility for the attack.
The poor persons’ attitude is noteworthy. With the turnout at just 33 pct in the first phase of the referendum Egypt's political elite have lost the support of the man on the street.
Dina Samak reported:
Om Rasha is a cook with three children and wears the full Islamic face veil. She lives in a village on the outskirts Suez and says has voted for the Muslim Brotherhood or the Salafists in every election since 2011, because “they are men of God and will fear God and obey His orders and be good to the poor.”
However, the life of Om Rasha, and the 40 percent of Egyptian women who, like her, are the main breadwinners in families living below the poverty line, has not improved since the revolution and there are few signs that it will in the near future.
Om Rasha says she does not know who she will vote for in the constitutional poll, which takes place in Suez on December 22, but she will not vote for the Brotherhood because “they will raise prices for the poor."
She adds: “[The Brotherhood] will not support me financially except if I am a widow or divorced, and I am neither. I am a poor woman who can hardly make ends meet.”
However, Om Rasha also has little time for the opposition groups campaigning for a 'No' vote.
“The other men (the leaders of the National Salvation Front, the main bloc opposing the constitution) have not said how they will help me pay my bills. I don’t understand what they say or how they can govern if Morsi leaves and I think they will fight with each other,” she says.
Mixed sentiments could be heard in Maadi, an upper middle class district of Cairo.
The well-dressed people queuing to vote made it clear they were against the constitution and an Islamist state governed by the "arrogant" Brotherhood which is "little different to Hosni Mubarak's National Democratic Party."
In Maadi's old market, Abdel Hameed, a fruit seller from Sohag in his early fifties, did not even know if he was supposed to vote in the first or second phase of the referendum.
“This whole thing is not for us,” he says. “I just want things to get better and there is no hope of that.”
Voting took place in Sohag on December 15, so the voice of Abdel Hameed, like Om Rasha, will not influence the referendum.
“If we vote for the Brotherhood they are going to raise prices and the opposition will keep on protesting. But if we vote for the opposition, the government will keep on telling us to wait until we have institutions that can deliver our demands,” says Abdel Hameed, who takes his young daughter to the hospital every week for dialysis. “I don’t have health insurance and my whole day is spent earning enough money to live and trying to find people to help me get the state to cover the expenses of my daughter’s treatment.”
The apathy many people showed towards the referendum cannot be ignored in the context of the ongoing battle between the ruling Islamists and the civil opposition. If the turnout in the second phase of the referendum is as low as in the first it will highlight the fact that fewer people are willing to vote.
In December 2011, turnout for the parliamentary election was over 60 per cent. A few months later, less than 50 per cent of voters cast ballots in the presidential election. The declining level of participation is a clear message to the country's political leaders if they really want to see it.
The majority of Egyptians, in the first phase of the referendum at least, answered the hard question—they decided not to vote.
Islamists prevent judge
Another press report said:
Hundreds of Islamist protesters gathered outside the High Constitutional Court (HCC) and have prevented the head of the court, Judge Maher El-Beheiry, from entering the premises December 16, 2012 afternoon.
El-Beheiry contacted the police to report the incident but was still unable to enter the court.
Hundreds of pro-Morsi demonstrators gathered at the HCC since December 2, when the court was due to rule on the constitutionality of the Constituent Assembly that drafted the constitution. It was widely expect that the court would rule the assembly unconstitutional.
A second decision was due on the constitutionality of the Shura Council, the upper house of parliament, which could also have seen it dissolved.
The demonstrations by Islamists surrounding the court led HCC judges to indefinitely suspend the work of the court, citing "pressures" exerted upon judges and the legal process.
The HCC had earlier ruled against the constitutionality of the lower house of parliament, the People's Assembly, leading to its dissolution
 guardian.co.uk, “Egypt opposition alleges referendum rigging as Islamists claim victory” Dec. 16, 2012,
 Ahram Online, “Egypt constitution referendum unofficial results: 'Yes' 56.5 pct”, Dec. 16, 2012,
 Ahram Online, “So, what did the Egyptians really vote for?”, Dec. 16, 2012,
 Ahram Online, “Islamist protesters deny head of High Constitutional Court entry to premises”, Dec. 16, 2012, http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/60671/Egypt/Politics-/Islamist-protesters-deny-head-of-High-Constitution.aspx
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