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Egyptians approve constitutional changes

CAIRO — A majority of Egyptian voters — 77 percent — supported constitutional changes leading to general elections within six months, according to results released Sunday after the first voting since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak.

Mohammed Ahmed Attiyah, head of the judicial committee in charge of the referendum, said 18.5 million Egyptians voted on Saturday in favor of the changes, which strip away many of the executive powers and political restrictions of the Mubarak era.

Turnout was 41 percent, more than double the turnout in the last election under Mubarak.

Monitors reported no widespread fraud, but noted smaller irregularities and the use of religion to persuade voters.

A power struggle is brewing between Islamists and secular Egyptians. Both sides invoked religion in their campaigns, but the Islamists hammered home that a "yes" vote was a vote for Islam.

The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group and the best-organized bloc in the country, benefits from the quick fixes to the constitution. There's also concern that the "yes" vote boosts the Brotherhood's nemesis, Mubarak's National Democratic Party

The most notable constitutional changes include four-year presidential term limits, full judicial oversight of elections, curbing emergency laws, more room for independent candidates, and the repeal of "terrorism" laws that were used under Mubarak to bypass civilian courts and justify open-ended detentions.

Egyptians approve constitutional changes 03/20/11 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:09pm]

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