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Large Turnout in Egypt for Constitution Vote

Published on Sunday 20th March 2011 Large Turnout in Egypt for Constitution Vote

Egyptians came out in large numbers Saturday to vote on a group of constitutional changes that will pave the way to presidential and parliamentary elections within six months. Observers said some polling stations have stayed open late to accommodate the large turnout.

The country's estimated 45 million registered voters are being asked to vote on a package of changes to the constitutional amendments that were drawn up by an appointed panel.

The military council that has been running the country since Hosni Mubarack stepped down five weeks ago wants to hand over power as quickly as possible to a civilian government.

The new articles include a maximum two-term presidential term limit and the restoration of judicial supervision over election results. Also, the president would only be able to impose a state of emergency for six months, after which any renewal would have to be approved in a referendum.

Mubarak ruled under a state of emergency for most of the 30 years he was in power.

Some of the groups behind the protest movement that toppled Mubarack are calling for voters to reject these changes, saying they were drawn up too quickly and that the document needs to be completely rewritten.

The Muslim Brotherhood is the main group advocating a yes vote on the changes, along with some elements of Mubarack's former ruling National Democratic Party, who critics say would stand to gain the most if the process goes quickly.

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