A senior Egyptian security official said that authorities would deal “firmly” with any attempt to disrupt a referendum on the country’s amended constitution, a warning directed at followers of the ousted Islamist president who have been staging regular protests since his overthrow.
Chief of General Security Gen. Sayyed Shafiq said Wednesday that the security forces were setting up a plan for the vote, set to be held within a month. “Any attempt to disrupt the referendum on the constitution will be faced with firmness and decisiveness according to the law,” he said.
Supporters of Mohammed Morsi, the country’s first freely elected president, have denounced the vote as a “rubber stamp” for the political order set up after his overthrow.
Two secular-leaning panels spent three months rewriting the 2012 constitution drafted under Morsi, which the military suspended after its July 3 coup that removed Morsi from power. The constitutional panel has been working on changes as part of a military-backed timeline that calls for voters to approve it. It plans for parliamentary and presidential elections to be held early next year.
The constitution before the 50-member committee makes drastic changes in ensuring civil liberties, fighting discrimination, criminalizing torture, protecting religious freedoms and giving lawmakers power to remove the president. Yet the draft also allows Egypt’s powerful military to choose its own chief and try civilians in military tribunals.
The constitutional changes come amid a heavy-handed crackdown on dissent that’s left the country largely divided between supporters and opponents of the military.