Egypt votes in constitutional referendum

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Egyptians are voting today in a constitutional referendum.

It is the first ballot since the army, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, overthrew Islamist President Mohamed Mursi last year amid protests against his rule.

The army chief has urged Egyptians to back the text and its approval appears a foregone conclusion. That would be a springboard for a widely expected presidential bid by the general.

“Because of his role in supporting the people’s coup, if I may use the term, of June 30, and how the military sided with the will of the people…this led to an immense support of the Egyptians for General al-Sisi to present himself as a potential presidential candidate,” said political analyst Youssef Sidhom, editor in chief of the Christian newspaper al-Watani.

Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood is calling for a boycott of the referendum rather than a “no” vote.

But the military-backed government has cracked down hard on the group – arresting almost its entire leadership including the deposed president – and declaring it a terrorist organisation.

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