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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Violence as polls close in Egypt constitution vote, Wafd party in Cairo was targeted with petrol bombs


Violence as polls close in Egypt constitution vote - RTE.ie
A second round of voting will take place next Saturday
A second round of voting will take place next Saturday
Islamists attacked the offices of an Egyptian opposition party newspaper, security sources said, as people voted on a new constitution intended to pull the country out of a growing political crisis.
The newspaper of the Wafd party in Cairo was targeted with petrol bombs and birdshot, the sources said, in the latest of a series of violent incidents surrounding a divisive referendum designed to pave the way to national elections next year.
The attack came as officials began counting votes after polling stations closed at 11pm (9pm Irish time).
Official results will not come until after a second round of voting in remaining areas of the country next Saturday, but conflicting claims were already emerging from the rival camps.
A spokesman for the opposition National Salvation Front said it had indications that 60-65% of voters in Cairo and other cities had rejected the new constitution, while President Mohamed Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood allies said that after 1 million votes had been counted, 72.5% were in favour.
Mostafa Shafik, managing editor at Wafd's newspaper, which is located next to the party headquarters, said his offices had been damaged.
"The attackers used Molotov cocktails to enter, which left minor areas burned," he said.
A Reuters photographer saw a dozen or so cars damaged inside the Wafd headquarters' grounds, their windows broken.
Glass was also broken in the headquarters, but he saw no immediate signs of fire damage. Two people appeared to have been injured.
Wafd blamed followers of Hazem Abu Ismail, a Salafist preacher, for the attack, but he used his Facebook page to deny involvement.
Violence in Cairo and other cities has marred the run-up to the referendum. Several party buildings belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice party have been burned in protests.
Rival factions armed with clubs, knives and swords fought in the streets of Alexandria yesterday. Opposition supporters trapped a Muslim preacher inside his mosque after he backed a "yes" vote in favour of the constitution.
President Mursi provoked angry demonstrations when he issued a decree last month expanding his powers and then fast-tracked the draft constitution through an assembly dominated by his Muslim Brotherhood group and its allies.
At least eight people were killed in clashes last week outside the presidential palace.
His liberal, secular and Christian opponents say the constitution is too Islamist and tramples on minority rights.
Mr Mursi's supporters say the charter is needed if progress is to be made towards democracy nearly two years after the fall of military-backed strongman Hosni Mubarak.

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