Egypt opposition to protest against "invalid" constitution

Mon Dec 17, 2012 5:45pm EST
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By Giles Elgood

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's opposition plans new protests on Tuesday against a planned Islamist-backed constitution that looks set to be approved in the second round of a referendum next weekend.

Islamist President Mohamed Mursi obtained a 57 percent "yes" vote for the constitution in initial voting on Saturday, his party said, less than he had hoped for.

The result is likely to embolden the opposition, which says the law is too Islamist, although the second round is expected to result in another "yes", while underlining the deep divisions that have riven Egypt since Hosni Mubarak's fall.

On Monday, protesters broke out into cheers when the public prosecutor Mursi appointed just last month announced his resignation. They said it was a victory for the independence of the judiciary.

But they are unlikely to win Saturday's referendum second round, to be held in districts seen as even more sympathetic towards Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood, which won elections held after Mubarak was ousted in February 2011.

The opposition National Salvation Front said there were widespread voting violations in the first round of the referendum vote and urged organizers to ensure that the second round was properly supervised.

It has called for protests across Egypt on Tuesday "to stop forgery and bring down the invalid draft constitution" and wants organizers to re-run the first round of voting.

In Cairo, the Front plans to hold demonstrations at Tahrir Square, cradle of the revolution that toppled Mubarak, and outside Mursi's presidential palace, still ringed with tanks after earlier protests.   Continued...

Protesters against Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi rest in front of a tent named "Revolution Party" at Tahrir Square in Cairo December 17, 2012. Egypt's opposition called for nationwide protests against a constitution backed by Mursi, after a vote exposed deep divisions that could undermine his efforts to build consensus for tough economic measures. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh