Egypt sees narrow vote in ‘favour’ of referendum

Egyptians voted narrowly in favour of a Constitution shaped by Islamists but opposed by other groups who fear it will deepen divisions, officials in rival camps said on Sunday after the first round of a two-stage referendum.

Next week's second round is likely to give another "yes" vote as it includes districts seen as more sympathetic towards Islamists, analysts say, meaning the constitution would be approved.

But a close win, if confirmed, would give Islamist President Mohamed Morsi only limited cause for celebration as it would show a wide rift in a country where he needs to build consensus.

The Muslim Brotherhood's party, which propelled Morsi to office in a June election, said 56.5 percent backed the text. Official results are not expected till after the next round.

"The referendum was 56.5 percent for the 'yes' vote," a senior official in the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party operations room set up to monitor voting said.

The Brotherhood and its party had representatives at polling stations across the 10 areas, including Cairo, in this round. The official said the tally was based on counts from more than 99 percent of polling stations.

The vote passed off calmly with long queues in Cairo and several other places, though unofficial tallies indicated turnout was around a third of the 26 million people.

As polls closed, Islamists attacked the offices of the newspaper of the liberal Wafd party, part of National Salvation Front coalition that pushed for a "no" vote.

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