Printed on: December 13, 2012

Egypt opposition urges 'no' vote

By Hamza Hendawi
Associated Press

CAIRO -- Egypt's opposition called on its followers Wednesday to vote "no" in a crucial referendum on a disputed constitution drafted by Islamist supporters of President Mohammed Morsi.

The decision came as Morsi's government forged ahead with its own plan, starting overseas voting in diplomatic missions for expatriates.

The moves reinforced the atmosphere of a nation in crisis, deeply divided over whether Egypt might move toward Islamic theocracy or retain its secular traditions. More opposition protests were planned, judges remained on strike, and there were concerns of further economic disarray after

Egypt delayed a $4.8 billion IMF loan needed to revive the economy.

Wednesday's call for a "no" vote followed a prolonged debate within the opposition over whether to boycott the referendum -- a threat that still hung in the air as the anti-Morsi camp laid down its conditions for participation.

These included full judicial supervision, independent and international monitors, and adequate security. If they were not met, Morsi's opponents said, the opposition would call a last-minute boycott.

On Tuesday, the vast majority of Egypt's judges rejected any role in overseeing the referendum.

Egypt's crisis began Nov. 22 when Morsi issued decrees, since rescinded, that placed him above judicial oversight.