Egyptian voters approve new constitution

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CAIRO (CNN) — Egyptian voters who went to the polls this week have approved a new constitution, a spokesman for the electoral commission announced Saturday in a national broadcast.

The referendum passed by an overwhelming margin, with 98.1% voting in favor of the new constitution and 1.9 percent voting no, the commission told reporters in Cairo.

The head of the Egypt Constitutional Committee described the turnout as “unprecedented” — 20 million people, representing 38.6% of those eligible to vote.

Supporters of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood had boycotted the vote, which took place Tuesday and Wednesday, in response to a continuing government crackdown.

The Brotherhood had supported the country’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsy, who was ousted last July in a military coup.

The head of the committee heaped praise on this week’s results, calling them a move forward on the path toward democracy.

Rights groups have expressed concern about what they call an increasingly repressive environment in Egypt, where more than 2,200 people have been killed since the ouster of Morsy, who had replaced strongman Hosni Mubarak after he stepped aside in February 2011 amid the massive anti-government demonstrations that were part of the Arab Spring.

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