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Egyptian VP issues 'personal initiative'

Dec. 6, 2012 at 1:30 PM
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CAIRO, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Having a national referendum on a new constitution doesn't' mean opposition voices will be ignored, the country's vice president said.

In what's described by the Egypt State Information Service as a "personal initiative," Egyptian Vice President Mahmoud Mekki called for a political dialogue to address controversial issues in the proposed constitution.

Some articles in the draft document regarding a woman's role in society and the authority of Islamic law were met with concern by some national and international leaders. Mekki said most of the disputes are related to the wording in about 15 articles of the 234-article draft.

He said a national referendum on the constitution would be conducted as scheduled Dec. 15. That didn't mean opposition voices wouldn't be heard, he added.

Frustration with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi boiled over after he gave himself sweeping new powers. Recent tensions add to simmering frustration with a post-revolutionary Egypt led by the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails.

Protests this week have focused on the presidential palace. Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram reports at least six people were killed and another 600 were injured during Wednesday clashes.

"We will overcome the current tension," Mekki said. "No political faction makes the majority."

Mekki is the first civilian to serve as vice president in Egypt. He's seen as sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood, but isn't a member.

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