Just hours to go before Egypt’s constitutional referendum, and there is great tension and frequent clashes in the streets of Alexandria and Cairo.
Opponents and supporters of President Mohammed Morsi are being mostly kept apart by the police and army, but where they manage to clash, stones and punches are thrown.
10 of Egypt’s regions vote tomorrow, including Cairo and Alexandria. The other 17 vote on December 22. In all a quarter of a million police and army officers have been mobilised to oversee the vote, in which over 51 million people are eligible to take part.
Yet most have not read the hurriedly-prepared constitution, indeed most cannot, and even if Egypt’s teeming millions of illiterates could read it, its critics say it is a cobbled-together nest of future problems.
“Of course we’ll vote no because this constitution prevents many freedoms, for example press and media freedom. All of us will vote tomorrow, if God wills, against this new constitution,” said one man carrying his infant son.
“The message which I want to send to protesters near the palace is that Mohammad Morsi is the elected president and the Egyptian people chose him so we have to protect our choice,” said another man.
Thousands of Morsi supporters chose to mass outside a mosque in Cairo near Morsi’s presidential palace, itself ringed by his protesting opponents, to chant his support and call for a “yes” vote for the constitution.