Egyptians clash ahead of weekend vote

Dec. 21, 2012 at 9:16 AM
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ALEXANDRIA, Egypt, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- An Egyptian government spokesman said peace should prevail but riot police in Alexandria fired tear gas at demonstrators ahead of voting for a new constitution.

The Egyptian government said most voters who took part in a national referendum last weekend supported the new draft constitution. Voting in Cairo, Alexandria and eight other provinces was conducted last weekend. More voting is scheduled for Saturday.

Some political movements in Egypt and U.N. officials have expressed concern about the influence of Islamic law and the rights afforded to some members of society in the proposed constitution.

Clashes between opposition supporters and Islamic backers broke out Friday at a mosque in Alexandria. Tear gas was fired on protesters, though Egyptian news agency al-Ahram reports the situation was under control following mid-day prayers.

The report added that Islamic supporters blamed opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei in part for stoking unrest.

Yasser Ali, a spokesman for Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, said the administration was "open to dialogue" on the constitution regardless of the outcome of the vote.

"We are all aware of the rules of democracy, the most important of which is the peaceful transfer of power," he was quoted as saying. "Dialogue is the only solution for those who want a democracy."

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