Vice-President quits as Egypt votes on disputed charter

Egypt's vice-president resigned on Saturday as Egyptians voted in a referendum that is expected to approve a new constitution that lays the foundations for the country's transition to democracy but will strip him of his role.

Authorities extended voting by four hours in the second and decisive round of the plebiscite on an Islamist-drafted constitution that the opposition has criticised as divisive and likely to cause more unrest.

Just hours before polls closed, Vice President Mahmoud Mekky announced his resignation, saying he wanted to quit last month but stayed on to help President Mohamed Morsi tackle a crisis that blew up when the Islamist leader assumed wide powers.

In a resignation letter, Mekky said that although he had held on in the post he had "realised for some time that the nature of political work did not suit my professional background as a judge".

Queues formed at some polling stations around the country and voting was extended by four hours to 11 pm (2100 GMT). Unofficial tallies are likely to emerge within hours of the close, but the referendum committee may not declare an official result for the two rounds until Monday, after hearing appeals.

As polling opened on Saturday, a coalition of Egyptian rights groups reported a number of alleged irregularities. They said some polling stations had opened late, that Islamists urging a "yes" vote had illegally campaigned at some stations, and complained of irregularities in voter registration irregularities, including the listing of one dead person.

Last week's first round of voting gave a 57 percent vote in favour of the constitution, according to unofficial figures.

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