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NSF calls for protest against referendum violations - Daily News Egypt

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NSF calls for protest against referendum violations

Opposition demand repeating the first phase of the referendum and taking steps to ensure no violations happen in the second

Polling station officials count ballots in Cairo at the end of the first day of voting in a referendum on a new constitution. (AFP Photo / Mahmoud Khaled)

The National Salvation Front, the largest opposition bloc in the country, called for a protest on Tuesday, in objection to violations that took place in the first phase of the referendum.

Heba Yassin, the media spokesperson of the Popular Current which is part of the opposition coalition, said the protest also calls for full judicial supervision of the second phase.

Critics of the referendum claim it is not very clear whether it is judges or just employees in judicial institutions who oversaw the first phase. Experts say transparency from officials is very important at this point to help the public judge for themselves the integrity of the referendum.

The National Salvation Front (NSF) released a statement following a meeting in Al-Wafd headquarters, on Sunday night. It held the Supreme Electoral Committee and Zaghloul Al-Belshy, head of the committee, responsible for opening investigations into the “flagrant violations.”

The NSF called on the people to take to the streets in order to defend their free will being falsified and bring down the invalid constitution.

In addition, the NSF is demanding its representatives meet Al-Belshy, to discuss the official complaints handed to the committee by the NSF, civil society institutions and citizens.

The NSF claims there were around 7,000 violations and 1,500 official complaints in the first phase. Yassin stated that the NSF is not boycotting or leaving the scene despite the violations. “If we had, these violations would not have become clear to us,” she said.

The NSF called on Al-Belshy to consider the suggestion of rights organisations, to repeat the first phase because of the violations.

Ahmed Sobei, the media spokesperson of the Freedom and Justice Party, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, said that the NSF is insisting on creating a crisis in the country. “They are not protesting against violations, they are protesting against the results…who are they objecting to, the Egyptian people who voted or the judges who oversaw the referendum? They have to clarify,” Sobei said.

Ahmed Khairy, the media spokesperson of the Free Egyptians Party, which is part of the opposition coalition, denied the protest is in objection to the preliminary results of the referendum. “But there are indications which show forgery and manipulation is taking place,” he said.

Sobei added that the NSF is not accepting anything except for what they want. “This is not democratic… The referendum has nothing to do with the president or political parties,” he said.

The first phase of the referendum on the draft constitution was held on Saturday and included 10 governorates, including Cairo, and 26 million eligible voters, roughly half of Egypt’s electorate. The remaining 17 will vote next Saturday.

Egypt has been in a political crisis which has dragged on since late November between the Islamists and the NSF at opposite ends.

Parties inside the NSF have been campaigning to sway the public to vote “No” and have repeatedly taken to the streets ahead of the referendum, calling for its postponement.

The Freedom and Justice Party also held a campaign to convince people to vote “Yes,” claiming that passing the draft constitution will lead to stability.

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