Egypt referendum on draft constitution on Jan 14-15

CAIRO: Egypt said Saturday a referendum on a new draft constitution will be held next month, the first step towards elected rule in a country deeply polarised after president Mohamed Morsi’s ouster.

“I call upon you to vote in a referendum on the draft revised constitution on January 14 and 15,” interim president Adly Mansour said in a speech to the nation, accompanied by high-ranking officials and those who drafted the new charter.

The new constitution was drafted after the interim military-installed authorities suspended the previous charter written under the Islamist Morsi.

Egypt’s first democratically elected president was ousted by the army on July 3.

His removal has caused deep divisions amid a sweeping and deadly government crackdown targeting Morsi supporters that has left more than 1,000 people dead and thousands more arrested.

Mansour praised the revised draft for its provisions on the “securing of human rights, freedoms and the balancing of powers”.

“It is a good start on which to build the institutions of a democratic and modern state,” he said.

The revised charter has come under severe criticism from secular movements and rights groups for retaining the powers and privileges of the military.

The constitutional referendum is to be followed by parliamentary and presidential elections in mid-2014, according to a transition road map outlined by the new authorities.