UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Wednesday for the final stage of a referendum in Egypt on a new constitution to be carried out peacefully so the country can focus on building "a pyramid of democracy in the heart of the Arab world."
The run-up to the two-stage referendum vote on the Islamist-backed constitution, billed as a major impetus for Egypt's democratic transition, has been marked by often violent protests in which at least eight people have died.
The first day of voting last weekend resulted in a 57-percent vote in favor of the draft basic law, according to official media. The final stage on Saturday is expected to endorse that result as it covers parts of Egypt, particularly rural areas, even more sympathetic to the Islamist cause.
"I sincerely hope there should be no further violence and the protest must be carried out in a peaceful manner so people will be free to express their views. All parties must act to prevent the violence, respect human rights, and uphold their national laws," Ban told reporters in New York.