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Muslim Brotherhood urges support for constitutional changes

Some 40 million Egyptians go to the polls Saturday to vote on amendments to the country’s constitution. The powerful and popular Muslim Brotherhood is telling its supporters to vote "yes".

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The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition force, is supporting controversial amendments to the country's constitution, which will be put to a referendum on Saturday. 

The constitutional changes – which are opposed by many of the youths who took Tahrir Square duing the country's recent revolution – include measures to limit presidential terms, ease restrictions on presidential candidates and the formation of political parties, and bolster judicial supervision of elections. They do not, however, limit the powers of the president.

If the changes are approved, elections will be called for July.

Drafting a new constitution would be the responsibility of the new parliament. Other opposition groups worry that the Muslim Brotherhood, which is likely to do well in an early election, would then be in a position to draft a constitution tailored to its interests.

“The people are desperate to get back to normal,“ Brotherhood spokesman Essam Erian (pictured) told FRANCE 24. “The result of a ‘No’ vote is that there would be no plan. The result of a ‘Yes’ vote would be the army handing power back to the people.

“The ‘No’ camp says the constitution gives too much power to the president, but any constitution can be changed. What is important is that we get stability now."

Mohamed ElBaradei, a presidential hopeful and former head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, has called for a wholesale scrapping of the constitution and for elections to be postponed, threatening to pull out of the presidential race if the present constitution stands.

“Mohammed ElBaradei is wrong to say he will not be a candidate under this constitution,” said Erian. “A 'Yes' vote would pave the way for him to run the country.”

The Brotherhood, whose members had to run as independents under the previous regime, will launch its “Freedom and Justice” party in the coming weeks, Erian confirmed.

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