Referendum rush imperils Egypt election's legitimacy
CAIRO — Egypt's President Mohamed Morsy's decision to rush a referendum on a new constitution has polarized the country, which has been racked by widespread protests over how the document was drafted.
Now the balloting appears likely to heighten those divisions. With just two days to go before Egyptians are to begin voting on the constitution, there are signs that the rushed vote will be marred by irregularities, a shortage of judges and far fewer international monitors than in past elections.
That's likely to mean that questions about the legitimacy of the vote will exacerbate tensions and lead to more protests and possibly violence. Nine Egyptians died after pro- and anti-Morsy demonstrators clashed last week.
On Thursday, the largest opposition group, the National Salvation Front, said it would not recognize the results if the voting were not transparent and “legitimate.” It claimed that it had found evidence of rigged votes in the international balloting that took place this week, including had participated when they had not and polling stations that closed early. The government denied the charges.
The group insisted on international monitors at polling stations. To date, the largest groups that have monitored past elections here, including the Carter Center from the United States, have said they don't have time to prepare. Instead, only Egyptians will monitor the process.
That seems likely to lead to complaints that the monitors are biased.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the group through which Morsy rose to prominence, very likely will have the most monitors. Meanwhile, opposition groups were pleading for volunteers to register as monitors.
Egyptians spent months preparing for the May and June presidential elections. International monitoring groups took months to help guide and fund the process. This referendum has been pulled together so fast that the judges who are intended to oversee it are scrambling to figure out what they're supposed to do.
At the High Elections Commission headquarters in Cairo, judges who had come to find out which polling stations they had been assigned to were told to come back later.
Many who did know their assignments said they still had not been given the voter rolls they needed to conduct the elections.
Workers said privately that the elections commission did not have enough judges and the vote would be “messy.”
The shortage of judges — thousands are boycotting the referendum to protest Morsy's decision to give himself absolute judicial authority — forced the government to set two dates for voting so the judges can be double-tasked.
Egyptians in the nation's 10 largest governorates, including Cairo and Alexandria, will vote on Saturday. The rest of the country will consider the constitution on Dec. 22.
The system is likely to contribute to tensions over the referendum's outcome, with the results of the first day of voting being released before those voting on the second day have cast their ballots. Some are complaining that will influence how the later voters decide.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 11 parents of abducted Nigerian girls die
- Islamists gain foothold in few British schools
- Ban of flights to and from Israel feared to bolster Hamas
- Flights disrupted in Shanghai, fueling speculation
- Ukraine: Pro-Russia rebels downed Malaysian plane
- Amid attacks, Afghan recount begins