Referendum triggers more rallies

Referendum triggers more rallies

CAIRO - Agence France-Presse
Referendum triggers more rallies

An Egyptian woman chant slogans denouncing President Mohammed Morsi during a protest supporting the Wafd party, in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Dec. 17, 2012. AP photo

Egypt’s opposition is calling for mass protests today after President Mohamed Morsi claimed victory in the first round of a referendum it alleges was riddled with polling violations.

The opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front, urged Egyptians to “take to the streets to defend their freedoms, prevent fraud and reject the draft constitution” ahead of the next round of voting on Dec. 22. It claimed “irregularities and violations” marred the initial stage of the referendum last weekend across half of Egypt that Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood said resulted in a 57 percent “yes” vote, according to its unofficial tally.

The official count will be given after the other half of the country goes to the polls in the second round.

Call to cancel vote

Mohamed ElBaradei, the Front’s coordinator, renewed his call for Morsi to cancel the referendum and enter talks with the opposition. “Last chance: cancel the ill-reputed referendum and begin a dialogue to close the rift, ... and bring back the state of law,” he wrote on Twitter.

A spokesman for ElBaradei’s group said the comment was not a call to boycott the second round.