Polls across Egypt closed on Wednesday evening after a second and final day of voting on a draft constitution that could pave the way for a presidential bid by army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Voting passed off more peacefully than on Tuesday, when nine people were killed. Officials said police arrested at least 79 people on Wednesday during protests by supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi, removed from power by Sisi in July. The Interior Ministry said 444 people had been arrested for “obstructing the referendum process” over the two-day vote. State media reported that polls had closed, and that counting had begun.
The constitution was expected to be approved easily. There has been little sign of opposition to it following a fierce government crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, and human rights groups said campaigning for a “no” vote had been repressed.
The draft constitution deletes Islamic language written into the basic law approved a year ago when Morsi was still in office. It also strengthens the state bodies that defied him: the army, the police, and the judiciary.
Officials have not indicated when the results of the poll will be announced, but High Elections Commission spokesman Hisham Mokhtar told Reuters that according to the law, they must be announced within 72 hours of polls closing.