CAIRO (AFP) – Egypt’s opposition cried fraud in Saturday’s first round of a divisive referendum on a new constitution, accusing President Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood of rigging votes to adopt the Islamist-backed text.
But the National Salvation Front opposition coalition did not immediately make good on a threat to call a boycott if it perceived violations, instead stepping up an appeal to Egypt’s 51 million voters to reject the draft charter.
The Front’s allegations, which included unsealed ballot envelopes and a judge preventing Christians from voting at one Cairo polling station, underlined the highly charged conditions in which the two-stage referendum was taking place.
Three weeks of anti-Morsi protests and clashes in Cairo last week that killed eight people and injured hundreds failed to prevent the referendum going ahead on the draft, largely shaped by Morsi’s Islamist allies.
To ensure security, some 120,000 troops were reinforcing 130,000 police.
Voting was being staggered across the country on Saturday and a week later because many judges were not willing to oversee polling.
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