A man voting for YES poses for photo in a balloting station in Maadi district, Cairo, capital of Egypt, on Jan.14, 2014. Egyptians started casting their votes on Tuesday on the country's new draft constitution, which is widely seen as a milestone during Egypt's political transition after Islamist president Mohamed Morsi was ousted last July. (Xinhua/Pan Chaoyue)
CAIRO, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- Egyptians started casting their votes on Tuesday on the country's new draft constitution, which is widely seen as a milestone during Egypt's political transition after Islamist president Mohamed Morsi was ousted last July.
The two-day referendum opened at 9 a.m. local time (0700 GMT) in the country's 27 governorates and was scheduled to close at 9 p. m. (1900 GMT).
The new constitution is a prior stage in the country's future roadmap after Morsi's ouster by the military following mass protests against his one-year rule and his Muslim Brotherhood group, which has recently been declared by the interim government as a "terrorist organization."
If the draft constitution is approved, Egypt will go through parliamentary and presidential elections, and the post-Morsi transitional period will come to an end in mid-June, 2014, six months after the referendum.
The new constitution is meant to replace the one drafted and approved under the ousted Islamist president Morsi and his group in late 2012.
A few minutes before the referendum kicked off, a bomb exploded outside a court in Giza, part of Greater Cairo, causing no casualties.
Although a lot of Egyptians consider a new constitution a prerequisite for stability and security in the turmoil-stricken country, Islamists in general and the Brotherhood in particular, who condemn Morsi's ouster as a coup, decided to boycot the constitutional referendum as "illegitimate."
Since Morsi's ouster, Islamists have been holding protests against the current interim leadership, especially after mid- August 2013 when the security forces dispersed two major pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo and Giza, leaving about 1,000 people dead. The police also arrested thousands of Morsi supporters, including leading Brotherhood members.
Only one day before the referendum, the prosecution referred over 1,200 Islamists to criminal court over charges of storming two police stations in Menia governorate south of the capital Cairo.
Experts expect a huge turnout and a sweeping "yes" vote in the constitutional referendum, signifying popular support for the military and its chief, Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.
Bomb explodes near court in Cairo before constitutional poll, no casualties
CAIRO, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- A bomb exploded outside a court in Cairo on Tuesday morning, minutes before the referendum on Egypt's new draft constitution kicks off, state-run Al-Ahram news website reported.
The explosion damaged the front wall of the court and walls nearby, the report said, adding that several cars were burnt, but caused no casualties. Full story
Backgrounder: Some key clauses in Egypt's new draft constitution
CAIRO, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- Egypt will hold its third constitutional referendum on Tuesday and Wednesday during three years since long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak was overthrown by massive protests in February 2011.
The first constitutional referendum, held on March 19, 2011, a month after the ouster of former president Mubarak was endorsed by 77.2 percent of voters. Based on the constitutional declaration, the length of the presidential term was reduced to four years, and the president could only run for two terms. Full story