Turnout Low, VP Quits in Egypt Constitution Vote

Vice President Mahmoud Mekki steps down, but it's not clear why

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Dec 22, 2012 2:55 PM CST | Updated Dec 22, 2012 3:38 PM CST

(Newser) – Egyptians voted today in the second and final phase of a referendum on an Islamist-backed constitution that has polarized the nation, with little indication that the expected passage of the charter will end the political crisis in which the country is mired. Voter turnout was low, the Guardian reports, but Islamist President Mohammed Morsi is likely to emerge from a bruising month-long battle with a narrow victory for the constitution he and his Islamist allies sought. Yet he faced bleeding from his administration: Hours before polls closed, Morsi's vice president, Mahmoud Mekki, announced his resignation.

Shortly afterward, state TV reported the resignation of Central Bank Governor Farouq el-Oqdah. But then it carried a denial by the Cabinet that he had stepped down. The administration has been trying to convince el-Oqdah not to quit, at a time when Egypt's pound has been losing value and a crucial deal for a much-needed IMF loan of $4.8 billion has been postponed. Mekki's move was in part expected since the new charter would eliminate the vice presidency post. But Mekki hinted that the hurried departure could be linked to Morsi's policies. Click for more, or see why the opposition says the voting was rigged.

Amnah Sayyed Moussa, 85, casts her vote for the second round of a referendum on a disputed Islamist constitution in Giza, Egypt, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012.   (Amr Nabil)
An Egyptian elderly man shows his inked finger after casting his vote south of Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012.   (Khalil Hamra)
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