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Morsy opposition urges followers to vote no on Egypt constitution

| Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012, 7:22 p.m.

CAIRO — A fractious coalition opposed to Egypt's President Mohamed Morsy urged its followers Wednesday to vote “no” on a contentious Islamist-backed draft constitution, but threatened to boycott the vote altogether if several conditions are not met.

The opposition coalition, known as the National Salvation Front, also urged Morsy to delay the process of adopting a constitution for two to three months so that “a national dialogue that is serious and equitable” can be conducted.

In a statement, the group said it is seeking “an agreement over the constitutional project that assures social-justice democracy and human rights” and is acceptable “to the general public.”

Opposition leaders said they would urge supporters to boycott the vote — which begins Saturday — unless the government guarantees adequate judicial supervision of the process; sufficient security at and outside of polling stations; international observers monitoring votes; completion of the vote in one day; and immediate reporting of the results.

The one-day requirement posed an immediate problem, however. In Egypt, judges must supervise polling sites during elections and referendums. At the moment, some of the country's most prominent judicial organizations have refused to do so.

Because there are not enough willing judges to cover all the polling sites on one day, Egypt's electoral commission — the Higher Electoral Committee — said early Wednesday that voting on the draft charter would take place on two consecutive Saturdays. Ten provinces, including most urban areas, will vote Dec. 15, and the remainder on Dec. 22. Egyptians living abroad were able to vote at Egyptian embassies, starting Wednesday.

The process of drafting the new charter, and the document itself, have revealed a profound gulf in how Egypt's revolutionaries see themselves and their future.Islamists back Morsy on one side, with a loose alliance of liberal, secular, Christian and figures from the ousted regime of Hosni Mubarak on the other side.

Attempts in recent days to bridge the divide have failed.

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