EGYPTIANS have approved a new constitution by referendum, state media has reported, a widely expected outcome that nudges army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi closer to a bid for the presidency.
The vote held on Tuesday and Wednesday advances a transition plan to democracy that the military-backed government unveiled after deposing Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July following mass anti-government unrest.
The constitution won wide support among the many Egyptians who favoured Mr Morsi’s removal.
His supporters in The Muslim Brotherhood had called for a boycott, saying the vote was part of a coup that deposed an elected leader.
The vote was also a sign of widespread yearning for a return to stability after almost three years of violent disorder that has crippled the economy, impoverishing many.
The next step is expected to be a presidential election for which Gen Sisi – wildly popular among his supporters – appears to be the only serious candidate. He has yet to declare he will run. About 90 per cent of the people who voted approved the constitution, it was reported.
The authorities have jailed leading Islamists and, in recent weeks, secular activists, including prominent figures in the 2011 uprising against president Hosni Mubarak.
An interior ministry official said turnout appeared to be more than 55 per cent.