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Cairo, day 1: Referendum on constitutional amendments

Today, my first day in Cairo, is an historic one: Egyptians are voting on whether or not they want their constitution – which was suspended during the revolution – to be amended. People are lining up to vote in endless queues at polling stations all over Cairo, and Egyptians I follow on Twitter are updating constantly about the voting process. They are expressing concern over possible irregularities, as well as exuberance at participating in the democratic process.

Cover of the March 2011 edition of Enigma, an Egyptian fashion magazine

Aljazeera’s website has a cogent breakdown and analysis of the amendments; and this article on AJ’s website explains why Egyptians are deeply divided about whether or not they want the constitution amended. Most of my Egyptian friends are voting ‘no.’

The YouTube clip below shows prominent Egyptians explaining why they plan to vote ‘no.’

I’m writing this on the fly – am about to accompany a friend as he votes, and will spend the rest of the day talking to people around the city.

I’ll post an article with photos this evening (evening in Cairo).

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    1. Ben Israel

      This referendum already proves that Egypt is NOT moving towards “democracy” in the way we know it. Constitutions and constitutional amendments must be approved on as wide-as-possible basis in the society in question and ample time must be allowed for discussion and for the people to understand what it is they are voting on. Now, can someone explain to me how that can happen when the amendments were drawn up and then presented for referenum all in a period of something like 3 weeks without any public discussion in a country with a large illiterate populace? All this means is the certain elements are bent on ramming these things through in order to facilitate their grabbing power later.

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    2. The question seems to be whether “less” (the thing being voted upon) is adequate or whether there must first be “more” for people to approve. I should think that even those who want “more” would agree that there should be an election before whatever is “more” is proposed; else too much power resides with un-elected constitutional revisers.

      However, I am not on the spot, am not Egyptian, and hope someone will clarify the issues for us all.

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