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December 23. 2012 10:20PM

Egyptians back new constitution in referendum

CAIRO - An Islamist-backed Egyptian constitution won approval in a referendum, rival camps said on Sunday, after a vote the opposition said would sow deep social divisions in the Arab world's most populous nation.

The Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, which propelled President Mohamed Mursi to power in a June election, said an unofficial tally showed 64 percent of voters backed the charter after two rounds of voting that ended with a final ballot on Saturday. An opposition official also told Reuters their unofficial count showed the result was a "yes" vote, while party spokesmen said there had been a series of abuses during the voting.

The main opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front, responded to the defeat by saying it was moving towards forming a single political party to challenge the Islamists who have dominated the ballot box since strongman Hosni Mubarak was overthrown two years ago.

Members of the opposition, taking heart from a low turnout of about 30 percent of voters, pledged to keep up pressure on Mursi through peaceful protests and other democratic means.

"The referendum is not the end of the road," said Khaled Dawoud, a spokesman for the National Salvation Front.


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