The polls are open in Egypt, and there is tight security, but the mood is festive. Lines of eager voters stretch across city blocks. Yet the option the military has set before voters in this constitutional referendum is essentially “vote yes, or face arrest.”The military and its leader General al-Sisi, who is widely believed to become the next President, have prevented opponents of the new constitution from campaigning. The BBC reports:
Much of the media though has been endorsing the new constitution and is widely seen as reflecting the government’s point of view.State-run media were on Tuesday describing the vote as a “democratic ceremony”—a term widely used during the Hosni Mubarak era but not heard since he was ousted in the revolution of January 2011.The vote is expected to come out in favour of the new charter.
The new constitution, reflecting a wariness of the Muslim Brotherhood, has banned religious parties, prompting the Brotherhood to boycott the vote. Nine people have been killed in clashes between the police and supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. “No” voters have been few and far between among those lining up to vote.In October, we said that the outlook for Egypt looked grim. We think the same today.