CAIRO, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Egyptian voters overwhelmingly approved a new constitution improving civil rights and granting the military more power, initial results indicate.
The public's support for the constitution could set the stage for Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the country's deputy prime minister and defense minister, to announce his candidacy for president, officials said.
Of the 17.5 million Egyptians who participated in the two-day vote, about 98 percent voted in favor of the new governing document, Ahram Online reported Thursday, noting results for Cairo and the North Sinai had yet to be announced.
The new constitution, drawn up following the military's ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in July and criticized by many, improves the rights of women, ensures greater access to social justice and gives the military more power, the Egyptian website said.
The country's Interior Ministry announced 444 Muslim Brotherhood members were arrested during the polling that began Tuesday and said 11 people were killed in nationwide clashes among Brotherhood supporters, local residents and security forces.
More than 52 million Egyptians were eligible to participate in the vote, the first held since Morsi's ouster.