Sunday,23 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1181, (23 - 29 January 2014)
Sunday,23 September, 2018
Issue 1181, (23 - 29 January 2014)

Ahram Weekly

A vote of confidence

The results of the referendum on Egypt’s new constitution have drawn positive reactions worldwide, reports Doaa El-Bey

Al-Ahram Weekly

International reactions to the results of the referendum on Egypt’s new constitution announced earlier this week have supported the view that the seriousness of the government’s intention to follow the roadmap will gradually diminish any continuing opposition to the 30 June Revolution.
“Going ahead with the roadmap and establishing a new democratic state is the only way of convincing the world we are on the right track. We are able to tell the world that one step has been accomplished and two are on their way,” one diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Badr Abdel-Atti, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said the ministry had been receiving positive international reaction to the result of the referendum, with other countries considering the constitution as an important step forward in implementing the roadmap and building a democratic state.
Many Arab countries welcomed the results. UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Zayed Al-Nahyan said that the results of the referendum would boost stability and development and raise confidence in the future of Egypt. He also expressed his satisfaction with the high turnout and support for the constitution, describing this as a conspicuous expression of Egyptian support for the document.
UAE Ambassador to Egypt Mohamed bin Nakhira Al-Dhaheri welcomed the positive result of the referendum on Egypt’s new constitution as an important step forward on the roadmap to the future.
He hailed the strong yes vote in the referendum as a victory for security, development and stability, describing is as an “important and positive step towards the implementation of the roadmap for the future.” He also noted the democratic atmosphere that had prevailed during the referendum process.
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia sent his congratulations on the success of the constitutional referendum to Egypt’s interim President Adli Mansour. Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Al-Arabi also praised the referendum as a “fundamental pillar” towards the realisation of the roadmap.
“The Arab League delegation that participated in monitoring the referendum has praised the efforts made by the Egyptian Supreme Elections Committee, along with the military and police forces, that ensured the referendum was held in a calm and transparent atmosphere,” he said in a statement on Sunday.
A total of 98.1 per cent of voters, amounting to 19,985,389 people, approved the draft constitution, while only 1.9 per cent, or 381,341 people, rejected it, the Supreme Elections Committee announced in a press conference. A turnout of 38.6 per cent, or 20,613,677 voters, took part in the referendum.
Shortly after the results were announced, US Secretary of State John Kerry urged Egypt’s interim government to continue its path of transparency and restraint as the “turbulent experiment in participatory democracy” goes forward.
However, Kerry also issued an official statement highlighting “serious concerns about the limits on freedom of peaceful assembly and expression in Egypt”. He stressed the need to allow international observers to monitor elections in order to “build confidence” in Egypt’s moves towards democracy, citing reports by the Carter Center and Democracy International, both international NGOs, which had expressed “serious concerns” about the political climate in the country.  
Kerry urged the Egyptian government to implement the rights and freedoms that are guaranteed in the new constitution and to take steps towards social reconciliation. “Democracy is more than any one referendum or election. It is about equal rights and protections under the law for all Egyptians, regardless of their gender, faith, ethnicity or political affiliation,” he said.
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton welcomed Egypt’s constitutional vote, which she described as “largely orderly”. She said the new constitution had been endorsed by an “ample majority” and expected it to herald civilian rule.
“I would like to congratulate the Egyptian people and the authorities responsible for organising the vote,” Ashton said in a statement issued on Sunday. While she said there had been some “irregularities” in the poll, she said that these had not affected the outcome.
Ashton added that she expected the new constitution to be applied in a way that gave full effect to the civilian rights included in it.
France also welcomed the passing of the constitution as an important step towards establishing democratic institutions and building a civil state, as a spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry put it. Germany welcomed the results, considering the referendum to be the starting point towards stability and the regaining of Egypt’s status and international and regional role.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was one of the first world leaders to congratulate Egypt on the constitutional referendum. “We hope that Egyptian society will overcome the current political and economic difficulties and the country will return to the path of stability and growth,” the Russian president said last week.
Putin asked the newly-appointed Egyptian ambassador in Moscow “to convey his best wishes to the Egyptian leadership” and his congratulations on the constitutional referendum.
He also voiced hopes for more cooperation between Cairo and Moscow.
The referendum on the previous constitution held in 2012 while former president Mohamed Morsi was still in power was boycotted by secularists and saw a turnout of 33 per cent, with 64 per cent of those voting approving the document.
Breaking the current consensus, the Muslim Brotherhood declared that it would contest the results of the new referendum, describing them as having been “rigged”.
The results of the referendum, the high turnout and the wide popular consent are not only votes of confidence in the new constitution. They are also votes of confidence in the 30 June Revolution, the roadmap and Minister of Defence and head of the Armed Forces Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi’s nomination for the presidency.
The 2014 constitution replaces the 2013 constitution which was passed under Brotherhood rule.
“Sticking to the roadmap and holding the presidential and parliamentary elections, no matter which is first, are the best guarantees that we will build more international support, and, more importantly, that we will build a modern democratic state,” the diplomat said.

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