Millions of Egyptians have turned out to vote in a referendum on a new constitution, a month after the fall of President Mubarak and his government.
People said they were voting freely for the first time in their lives. Abuses in previous parliamentary elections were widespread.
A ‘yes’ vote would pave the way for elections in six months.
The Muslim Brotherhood, campaigning for a ‘yes’ vote, said that for the first time Egyptians could have a say in proposed changes to the constitution, the president’s term in office, and the country’s future.
“Before, Egyptians didn’t have the chance to evoke these big democratic questions and this is already an achievement”, said Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Saad al Hosseini.
“Since the revolution people have gained confidence in the value of their vote and in themselves and towards their country,” said Ayman Nour of the centrist El Ghad party.
There was some trouble. Opposition leader Mohamed El Baradei was attacked as he tried to vote in a poor Cairo suburb. Hundreds of people threw stones and shoes. He was hit in the back but reportedly not hurt. He condemned what he called “organised thugs” and a lack of security.
euronews correspondent in Cairo, Jamel Ezzedini, said turnout was massive in the capital city’s polling stations.
“As for the proposed changes to the constitution, between ‘yes’ and ‘no’ it seems fairly equal,” he said. “But most people insist what’s important is to respect the result of this referendum which represents for many people the seeds of freedom and democracy in the post-Mubarak era.”