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Voters overwhelmingly back new Egypt constitution

By The Associated Press

This article was originally published January 18, 2014 at 10:40 a.m. Updated January 18, 2014 at 3:45 p.m.

egypts-high-election-commission-announces-the-voting-results-of-a-referendum-on-egypts-military-backed-constitution-saying-981-percent-supported-it-in-the-first-vote-since-a-coup-toppled-the-countrys-president-in-cairo-egypt-saturday-jan-18-2014-in-the-lead-up-to-the-vote-police-arrested-those-campaigning-for-a-no-vote-on-the-referendum-leaving-little-room-for-arguing-against-the-document-ap-photoamr-nabil

Egypt's High Election Commission announces the voting results of a referendum on Egypt's military-backed constitution, saying 98.1 percent supported it in the first vote since a coup toppled the country's president, in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. In the lead up to the vote, police arrested those campaigning for a "no" vote on the referendum, leaving little room for arguing against the document. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

CAIRO — Almost everyone who cast ballots supported Egypt's new constitution in this week's referendum, results announced Saturday show, but a boycott by Islamists and low youth turnout suggest the country is still dangerously divided.

Nearly 20 million voters backed the new constitution, almost double the number of those who voted for one drafted in 2012 under the government of toppled Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Only a narrow sliver of voters — 1.9 percent — voted against the charter, after a massive government-sponsored campaign supporting it and the arrest of activists campaigning against it.

The expected overwhelming support for the charter is seen as key to legitimizing Egypt's military-backed interim government, and the political plan put in place since Morsi's ouster in July. Analysts say it also suggests military chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who led the coup against Morsi, has enough popular support to make a rumored run for the presidency himself.

Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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