Egyptians vote for new constitution

CAIRO, Jan. 16 (UPI) —

Egyptian voters overwhelmingly approved a new constitution improving civil rights and granting the military more power, initial results indicate.

The public’s support for the constitution could set the stage for military leader Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to announce his candidacy for president, officials said.

Of the 17.5 million Egyptians who participated in the two-day vote, some 98 percent voted in favor, Ahram Online said Thursday, noting results for Cairo and the North Sinai have yet to be announced.

The new constitution, drawn up following the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi in July and criticized by many, improves the rights of women, ensures greater access to social justice and gives the military more power, the Egyptian website said.

The country’s interior ministry announced some 444 Muslim Brotherhood members were arrested during the polling that began Tuesday and said nine people were killed in nationwide clashes among Brotherhood supporters, local residents and security forces.

More than 52 million Egyptians were eligible to participate in the vote, the first held since Morsi’s ouster.

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