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Egypt to announce state of emergency ahead of constitutional referendum, says official - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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An Egyptian army soldier stands guard in front of a polling station in Cairo, Egypt, on Monday, January 13, 2014, ahead of the country’s constitutional referendum due to take place on January 14–15. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

An Egyptian army soldier stands guard in front of a polling station in Cairo, Egypt, on Monday, January 13, 2014, ahead of the country’s constitutional referendum due to take place on January 14–15. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Egyptian interim government will announce a state of emergency ahead of the country’s constitutional referendum set to take place on January 14–15, according to an Egyptian government official.

Speaking on Sunday to Asharq Al-Awsat, the official said that the government was ready to “confront any attempt by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood to disrupt the referendum on the constitution.”

He added: “There are clear instructions to deal firmly and decisively with any violence from Muslim Brotherhood supporters. An advanced plan has been put in place to secure voting centers and the surrounding areas.”

International observers from the European Union and the UK-based anti-corruption organization, Transparency International, have been arriving in Cairo to monitor the referendum and ensure voting transparency.

James Moran, EU ambassador to Egypt, said that the EU delegation was working with civil society organizations to assess the process. Referring to the monitoring process he said: “It is a process . .  . we are not making a judgement. What we are doing here is looking forward . .  . our objective is to see this country succeed in regaining stability, to succeed in regaining democracy and above all to succeed in regaining a level of prosperity.”

The EU has reiterated its continued support for Egypt ahead of the vote. In a statement distributed by the EU mission in Cairo on Sunday, EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton said that the EU “continues to support . .  . [the Egyptian people] in fulfilling the aspirations of the January 2011 revolution.”

She also added that while she had “followed the recent violent events” with great concern, she was also confident that strong reactions to the current crisis would not help secure Egypt’s future, “and may even dangerously hinder free speech and trade union freedom.”

The Egyptian interim government has cracked down heavily on supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood since former President Mohamed Mursi’s ouster on July 3. On December 25 the government designated the group a terrorist organization, blaming it for a number of attacks which have rocked the country recently, including an attack on a police headquarters in Mansoura, north of Cairo the day before on December 24, which killed at least 14 people and injured 150, according to government officials.

Voting on the constitutional referendum for Egyptians living abroad closed on Sunday. Reports received by the operations room at the Foreign Ministry said there was an increased turnout on the last day.

Diplomatic sources said that “around 94,000 Egyptians in 138 [foreign] missions voted in the first four days, before the voting closed on the fifth day.”

Ambassador Badr Abdelati, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said: “The operations room at the Foreign Ministry had followed the voting process around the clock.”

Abdelati added that the process took place in “a calm atmosphere” and that attempts to disrupt the voting were “isolated and unsuccessful.”

A court on Sunday issued a ban on any organization or individual affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood to monitor the referendum.