Anti-coup bloc to protest outside presidential palace

Anti-coup groups call to boycott Egypt's constitutional referendum as the second day of voting sees a low turnout.

Anti-coup bloc to protest outside presidential palace

World Bulletin / News Desk

The National Alliance for the Defense of Legitimacy on Wednesday called for a demonstration near Cairo's Ittihadiya presidential palace to protest a national referendum, currently underway, on an amended version of Egypt's suspended 2012 constitution.

A source from the alliance, which is comprised of several anti-coup groups, said the planned demonstration was meant to protest the two-day referendum and its anticipated results.

The alliance, he said, had originally planned to stage the protest in Cairo's Tahrir Square, but decided to change the venue after the government turned the iconic square "into a military garrison."

Diaa al-Sawi, spokesman for "Youths against the Coup," had earlier called onanti-coup activists to maintain their nationwide protests against the referendum until polling stations closed their doors at 9pm Wednesday.

According to the alliance, at least 11 people were killed in clashes with security forces on Tuesday, the first day of the constitutional vote.

The Egyptian Health Ministry confirmed the death toll but insisted that five of the fatalities had died of natural causes.

Egypt referendum vote-count to begin Wednesday evening

Vote-counting for Egypt's constitutional referendum will begin as soon as polling ends on Wednesday at 9pm local time, Egypt's electoral commission announced.

Commission spokesman Hisham Mokhtar said that vote-counting would be carried out separately at each polling center as soon as centers were closed to voting.

Mokhtar said some polling centers could remain open beyond 9pm if there were still voters who wished to cast ballots.

He added that the electoral commission would receive vote results from polling stations throughout Thursday and Friday, without providing a date for the announcement of the final results.

However, an electoral commission source told Anadolu Agency that an official announcement would be made on Saturday at 6pm local time at a press conference at the headquarters of the State Information Service.

2nd day sees low turnout

The Egyptian Coalition for Election Monitoring said Wednesday that voter turnout countrywide on the second day of a referendum on an amended version of Egypt's 2012 constitution was less than that seen the first day.

The coalition, composed of 128 local rights groups that are monitoring the polling nationwide, also said that the second and final day of voting had seen a range of violations in several cities.

Alleged violations included delays in opening poll centers, illicit campaigning and missing voter lists.

On Tuesday, the first day of the vote, Egyptian authorities cited varying figures for voter turnout.

The highest turnout rates were reported in Egypt's central Fayoum province, while the lowest were registered in the northwestern Matrouh border province.

Tahrir Square sealed off

Egyptian security forces on Wednesday closed off Cairo's Tahrir Square in the face of calls by anti-coup groups to converge on the protest venue on the second and final day of a constitutional referendum.

Riot police and military vehicles took up positions while soldiers lined the square's entrances on Wednesday evening.

A security source told Anadolu Agency that security forces had closed the square off to traffic as a precautionary measure in the final hours of the referendum.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 16 Ocak 2014, 09:32