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Article published January 18, 2014
Egypt to release referendum results
CAIRO — Egypt prepared to release results Saturday of the referendum on its rewritten constitution, seen as key to legitimizing its military-backed interim government ahead of planned parliamentary and presidential elections. Unofficial results from the poll Tuesday and Wednesday showed a majority of voters backed the constitution. However, activists and monitoring groups have raised serious concerns over the atmosphere in which voting took place, with U.S.-based Democracy International saying that “arrests and detention of dissenting voices” took place ahead of the poll. “A democratic transition should be characterized by an expansion of freedoms, but Egyptians have seen substantial restrictions on the exercise of their democratic rights,” said Eric Bjornlund, Democracy International’s president and head of the observation mission in Egypt. Democracy International, which had some 80 observers in Egypt, said on voting days it noted that a heavy security deployment and the layout of some of the polling stations “could have jeopardized voters’ ability to cast a ballot in secret.” It also there was campaigning too close to the polling stations and lack of non-partisan domestic observers.