21 Mar 2011

Egypt referendum supports constitutional change

10:57 pm on 21 March 2011

Voters in Egypt have overwhelmingly approved a referendum introducing changes to the constitution, including limiting the terms of future presidents and making elections fairer.

Millions of people voted on Saturday, five weeks after an uprising that swept President Hosni Mubarak from power.

According to the official count, a clear majority of 77% of voters approved of the nine amendments to the constitution.

The BBC reports that opens the way for the military to hand over power to a new civilian government in a matter of months.

Parliamentary elections are now expected to take place no later than September, with the presidential election sometime after that.

The result will be welcomed by the millions of Egyptians who want life to return to normal as soon as possible.

But it will disappoint many of the leaders of the uprising in January who have argued that the constitutional changes are not democratic enough and that the election timetable does not give new parties time to prepare themselves.

The country's two main political groups, Mr Mubarak's National Democratic Party and the Muslim Brotherhood, backed the proposals.

Proposed changes

Reducing presidential terms from six years to four years and limiting the president to two terms.

Obliging the president to choose a deputy within 30 days of election.

Installing new criteria for presidential candidates, including a rule that they must be over 40 years old and not married to a non-Egyptian.