Morsi Opponents' New Tactic: Boycott Vote

Military gets power of arrest amid continuing protests

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 10, 2012 7:54 AM CST

(Newser) – The opposition's debate on how to handle Mohamed Morsi's scheduled constitutional referendum has been decided: Boycott it. In opting not to push voters to actually show up and vote no on Saturday, the move suggests Morsi's opponents determined they didn't have the votes to squash the charter. By taking the boycott route, they likely hope to erode the vote's validity, the New York Times reports. The opposition "rejects lending legitimacy to a referendum that will definitely lead to more sedition and division," says a spokesman.

The proposed constitution isn't actually much more religious than the old one, according to outside experts—but opposition activists say it paves the way for any Islamist parliamentary majority to limit individual rights. More demonstrations are planned for tomorrow and Friday, even as Morsi offered a carrot: He today rolled back a wide-ranging tax increase on items ranging from soda and beer to cigarettes and oil—levies that were announced only yesterday, reports the Financial Times. But then there's the stick: The Egyptian leader has given the army the power to arrest citizens. Troops, who have blocked off areas around the presidential palace with concrete blocks, are set to maintain security until referendum results are announced, the BBC reports.

Protesters chant slogans during a demonstration in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012.   (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Egyptian boys stand next to graffiti and Arabic writing on the wall, center, that reads, "Morsi, Egyptian blood is not cheap," in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012.   (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
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