Egypt's main opposition group, the National Salvation Front called on Sunday to repeat the first round of the constitutional referendum vote, seeking a probe into the complaints that reportedly took place, AFP reported.
According to the report, some 4,000 complaints took place during the vote, with the Front telling Al-Arabiya network the balloting had been “marred by irregularities and violations."
The opposition National Salvation Front coalition said in a statement that it “will not recognize any unofficial result," AFP reported.
The report follows the favorable vote for a constitution shaped by Islamists but opposed by
other groups who fear it will divide the Arab world's biggest nation, officials
in rival camps said on Sunday after the first round of a two-stage
Next week's second round is likely to give another "yes" vote
as it includes districts seen as more sympathetic towards Islamists, analysts
say, meaning the constitution would be approved.
But the narrow win so
far gives Islamist President Mohamed Morsi only limited grounds for celebration
by showing the wide rifts in a country where he needs to build a consensus for
tough economic reforms.
The Muslim Brotherhood's party, which propelled
Morsi to office in a June election, said 56.5 percent backed the text. Official
results are not expected until after the next round.
While an opposition
official conceded the "yes" camp appeared to have won the first round, the
opposition National Salvation Front said in a statement that voting abuses meant
a rerun was needed - although it did not explicitly challenge the Brotherhood's
Rights groups reported abuses such as polling stations
opening late, officials telling people how to vote and bribery. They also criticized widespread religious campaigning which portrayed "no" voters as
A joint statement by seven human rights groups urged the
referendum's organisers "to avoid these mistakes in the second stage of the
referendum and to restage the first phase again".
Mursi and his backers
say the constitution is vital to move Egypt's democratic transition forward.
Opponents say the basic law is too Islamist and tramples on minority rights,
including those of Christians who make up 10 percent of the
The build-up to Saturday's vote was marred by deadly
protests. Demonstrations erupted when Morsi awarded himself extra powers on Nov.
22 and then fast-tracked the constitution through an assembly dominated by his
However, the vote passed off calmly with long queues in
Cairo and several other places, though unofficial tallies indicated turnout was
around a third of the 26 million people eligible to vote this time. The vote was
staggered because many judges needed to oversee polling staged a boycott in
The opposition had said the vote should not have been held given
the violent protests. Foreign governments are watching closely how the
Islamists, long viewed warily in the West, handle themselves in
"It's wrong to have a vote or referendum with the country in the
state it is - blood and killings, and no security," said Emad Sobhy, a voter who
lives in Cairo. "Holding a referendum with the country as it is cannot give you
a proper result." Increasingly divided
As polls closed, Islamists attacked the
offices of the newspaper of the liberal Wafd party, part of the opposition
National Salvation Front coalition that pushed for a "no" vote.
referendum was 56.5 percent for the 'yes' vote," a senior official in the
Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party operations room set up to monitor voting
The Brotherhood and its party had representatives at
polling stations across the 10 areas, including Cairo, in this round. The
official, who asked not to be identified, said the tally was based on counts
from more than 99 percent of polling stations.
"The nation is
increasingly divided and the pillars of state are swaying," opposition
politician Mohamed ElBaradei wrote on Twitter. "Poverty and illiteracy are
fertile grounds for trading with religion. The level of awareness is rising
fast." One opposition official also told Reuters the vote appeared to have gone
in favor of Islamists who backed the constitution.
initially said its exit polls indicated the "no" camp would win comfortably, but
officials changed tack during the night. One opposition official said in the
early hours of Sunday that it would be "very close".
A narrow loss could
still hearten leftists, socialists, Christians and more liberal-minded Muslims
who make up the disparate opposition, which has been beaten in two elections
since Hosni Mubarak was overthrown last year.
They were drawn together to
oppose what they saw as a power grab by Morsi as he pushed through the
constitution. The National Salvation Front includes prominent figures such as
ElBaradei, former Arab League chief Amr Moussa and firebrand leftist Hamdeen
If the constitution is approved, a parliamentary election will
follow early next year.Deadly violence
Analysts question whether the
opposition group will keep together until the parliamentary election. The
Islamist-dominated lower house of parliament elected earlier this year was
dissolved based on a court order in June.
Violence in Cairo and other
cities has plagued the run-up to the referendum. At least eight people were
killed when rival camps clashed during demonstrations outside the presidential
palace earlier this month.
In order to pass, the constitution must be
approved by more than 50 percent of those casting ballots. There are 51 million
eligible voters in the nation of 83 million.
Islamists have been counting
on their disciplined ranks of supporters and on Egyptians desperate for an end
to turmoil that has hammered the economy and sent Egypt's pound to eight-year
lows against the dollar.
The army deployed about 120,000 troops and 6,000
tanks and armored vehicles to protect polling stations and other government
buildings. While the military backed Mubarak and his predecessors, it has not
intervened in the present crisis.