Clashes mar Egypt constitutional referendum-UPDATED

Commandos were deployed to disperse protests Alexandria, while deaths were reported elsewhere.

Clashes mar Egypt constitutional referendum-UPDATED

World Bulletin / News Desk

Scores were injured when security forces clashed with supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi near two polling centers in Giza on the first day of a referendum on an amended version of Egypt's 2012 constitution.

Security forces used teargas and birdshot to disperse a group of Morsi supporters who attempted to besiege a polling station in Giza's village of Mansouria, an Anadolu Agency correspondent reported.

In the nearby village of Nahia, a number of protesters suffered temporary asphyxiation after security forces used teargas to disperse another pro-Morsi demonstration.

In Cairo, security forces forcibly dispersed another protest staged by opponents of the referendum, leaving scores injured.

In the Nile Delta province of Sharqiya, meanwhile, nine protesters were arrested after security forces broke up a similar rally, eyewitnesses said.

The National Alliance for the Defense of Legitimacy, which calls for Morsi's reinstatement as president, is boycotting the poll due to what it describes as the "illegitimacy" of Egypt's military-backed interim government, appointed last July following Morsi's ouster by the army.

"Violent confrontations with protesters will only bolster protesters' resolve against injustice," leading alliance member Amr Adel told Anadolu Agency.

"We won't give up our demands and will continue staging peaceful protests," he added.

The constitutional amendment is the first step of an army-imposed transitional roadmap that also calls for presidential and parliamentary elections sometime this year.

The army has deployed some 160,000 soldiers and officers to secure the polling, while the Interior Ministry has deployed around 220,000 policemen.

The two-day referendum is being monitored by 68 local and international organizations, according to Egypt's High Electoral Commission.

Commandos storm Alexandria protests

Army commandos forcibly dispersed demonstrations by anti-coup protesters on Tuesday, as voting began in a nationwide referendum on an amended version of Egypt's 2012 constitution.

According to eyewitnesses in the coastal city of Alexandria, army commandos and Police Special Forces broke up protests and marches staged by pro-democracy activists who called on Egyptians to boycott the poll.

Eyewitnesses reported an "excessive" use of teargas by security forces.

Deaths reported

Five people were reportedly killed on Tuesday in clashes between security forces and supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi on the first day of a national referendum on an amended version of Egypt's 2012 constitution.

Hosni al-Aqabawi and Atef al-Halafawi were both shot dead by security forces in Giza's village of Nahia, according to sources from the pro-Morsi National Alliance for the Defense of Legitimacy.

Two more people – Yasser Hedaya and Ramadan Abdel-Al – were killed in the Upper Egyptian province of Sohag, the sources said.

A young man was also reportedly killed when security forces forcibly dispersed a anti-coup rally in the central Beni Sueif province.

Mahmoud Gomaa, 22, was shot in the face while participating in a protest against the referendum, according to the Egyptian Alliance, a local NGO that is observing the vote.

Neither the Health Ministry nor the Interior Ministry has confirmed the alleged fatalities.

Ex-presidential contender's name not on voter list

Former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi could not vote in a referendum on an amended version of Egypt's 2012 constitution after failing to find his name on a list of registered voters, Sabbahi's Popular Current said in a Tuesday statement.

According to the statement, Sabbahi went to a polling center in Giza where he had voted in previous polls, but could not find his name on the voters list. After checking the website of Egypt's High Electoral Commission, he found that he was registered to vote in Saudi Arabia.

"This mistake confirms that the voters' database needs to be scrutinized," the statement said.

Sabbahi came in third in 2012 presidential elections behind winning Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi and Mubarak-era prime minister Ahmed Shafiq.

The leftist activist established his Popular Current last year with the aim of countering the Brotherhood during Morsi's single year in office.

The Popular Current has recently touted its founder as a possible contender in upcoming presidential polls.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 15 Ocak 2014, 09:23