Egyptians split on Saturday's referendum
afrol News, 18 March - Protesters at Cairo's legendary Tahrir Square are mostly against tomorrow's precipitated referendum over a new constitution for Egypt, which they see as too similar to the current.
Protesters on Tahrir Square today chanting "Down with the referendum!"
|© Lilian Wagdy/afrol News|
The pro-democracy movement in Egypt, as on every Friday, is gathering on Tahrir Sqaure to assure that the people's voice is heard as the military junta now ruling the country is preparing a democratic transition.
Calls for a new constitution have been among the demands heard for weeks at Tahrir. But today, the dominant banners and slogans at the revulotionary square in central Cairo are against the constitutional referendum to be held tomorrow. More than 1000 protesters are shouting and distributing flyers urging people not to vote tomorrow.
But there are also people supporting tomorrow's referendum and the consitutional reform. Protesters at Tahrir report of persons claiming to belong to the Muslim Bortherhood, engaging in loud discussions with the youthful no-vote advocates, holding the referendum is a necessary reform step.
The Brotherhood engagement comes after Mufti Ali Gomaa on Wednesday voiced his strong rejection to protesters' demand to cancel the constitutional article stipulating that Islam is the religion of the state and that the principles of Islamic law are the basis of legislation. He urged "all citizens to head to the ballot stations on Saturday to take part in the democratic process in Egypt and to express their opinions freely and candidly."
The Egytpian army has banned the continu
ed protests at Tahrir Square, occasionally arresting single protesters. But despite a massive army presence, the manifestation in Central Cairo today so far are mostly a peaceful event.
At Cairo's Tahrir Square, banners against the referendum have been erected
|© Lilian Wagdy/afrol News|
Despite the vehement opposition to the referendum by the pro-democracy activists, it is widely expected that Egypt's over 40 million voters will stream to the ballot tomorrow in their first-ever opportunity to freely express their opinion. Most welcome the event, and in particular in rural areas, an ample "yes" vote is expected.
The constitutional changes votes over tomorrow are minor, according to the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. There are only amendments to the current constitution, which for example will allow for a broader specter of presidential candidates in the upcoming election; will limit presidential terms; and will secure free and fair elections.
Many Egyptians are expressing their enthusiasm for the careful constiutional reforms, seeing it as a first, important step towards true democracy in the country. Further reforms would need to be made by a democratically election government, they hold.
Pro-democracy activists however do not agree, holding that the Egyptian revolution was calling for an entirely new constitution, to be defined in a broad dialogue between authorities and civil society.
By staff writers
© afrol News
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