- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Recently, Egyptians were asked to vote on several major constitutional amendments. The 34 amended articles were drafted by the state and hailed as a step toward reform and democracy. Opposition and human rights organizations, however, saw it as a major setback for freedom and asked the citizens to boycott the referendum.

As expected, 75.9 percent of Egyptians voted in favor and the official turnout was 27.1 percent. But the opposition disagrees with these numbers, stating many violations while people were casting their votes and that the turnout was much lower.

“Egyptian Human Rights groups have already issued their reports on numerous types of violations during the March 26 referendum on constitutional amendments including the requisite half a kilo of meat offered to voters in some constituencies,” the Daily Star wrote.

“Egypt’s judges, who were charged with supervising the referendum, also said that election officials prevented them from supervising the referendum and stuffed ballot boxes when their backs were turned,” the Middle East Times said.

Debating the turnout and how the polls were monitored does not change the fact that the amendments will significantly and “permanently” change the constitution. This referendum was much more important than any presidential election because now it is the law. Unfortunately, boycotting, ignoring, or voting does not seem to matter. As long as the voting process is questioned, results will always be questioned. And democracy will remain an ever-elusive dream.

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