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Kerry on Egypt referendum: Democracy not determined by one vote

March 8, 2014 at 2:06 pm

In his first remarks on the Egyptian constitutional referendum, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stressed that “it’s not one vote that determines a democracy, it’s all the steps that follow”.

The remarks, published on Saturday, were published hours after Egypt’s constitutional referendum commission announced the final results of the referendum which was approved by 98.1% with a turnout estimated at 38.6% of eligible voters.

Commenting on the process, Kerry said: “The preliminary assessments of Democracy International and the Carter Center underscore the challenges ahead, including Egypt’s polarized political environment, the absence of a fully inclusive process in drafting and debating the constitution ahead of the referendum, arrests of those campaigning against the constitution, and procedural violations during the referendum, such as campaigning in proximity to and inside polling stations and lack of ballot secrecy.”

He also urged the interim government to follow through with its commitment to form an inclusive government through free and fair elections. “Now is the time to make that commitment a reality and to ensure respect for the universal human rights of all Egyptians,” he said.

The referendum was boycotted by the Muslim Brotherhood, which won the majority of votes in all elections after the January 25 revolution that toppled Egypt’s dictator Hosni Mubarak. The Brotherhood and the Anti-Coup Alliance consider the process as illigitimate.

The Anti-Coup Alliance said in a statement on Facebook that the “illegitimate constitution…has clearly failed, trampled by the will of revolutionary men and women of Egypt.” The Alliance suggested that widespread vote rigging took place as “ballot boxes that were left in the arms of corruption all night were filled illegally with millions of false votes, an old habit from the Mubarak clique who never allowed an election without forgery and fraud, stressing that the two-day systematic fraud adds new crimes to the coup’s record.

“Alliance members and fair non-biased rights NGO’s agree that the false referendum has failed. Those NGO’s included the Egyptian Center for Media Studies and Public Opinion, which revealed that average public participation in the referendum Tuesday was about 8%, and that attendance Wednesday until the afternoon was almost zero.”