|Nabil Salib (R), president of Egypt's High Election Commission (HEC), attends a press conference declaring the approval of the country's new constitution in Cairo, Egypt, on Jan. 18, 2014. Egyptian voters overwhelmingly approved the country's new constitution by 98.1 percent of votes saying "yes" to the military-backed charter, the High Election Commission (HEC) officially declared in the press conference Saturday, noting that the turnout was 38.6 percent. (xinhua/Cui Xinyu)|
CAIRO, Jan. 18 -- Egyptian voters overwhelmingly approved the country's new constitution by 98.1 percent of votes saying "yes" to the military-backed charter, the High Election Commission (HEC) officially declared in a press conference Saturday, noting that the turnout was 38.6 percent.
Out of more than 53.4 million eligible voters in 27 governorates nationwide in addition to expatriates, over 20.6 million voters took part in the polls, 19.98 million of them voted for the new constitution and over 381,341 voters voted against it, said HEC Chairman, Counselor Nabil Salib.
The official result comes a few days after Egypt wrapped up a two-day referendum on the new constitution on Jan. 15, which has been boycotted by most Islamists and their affiliates.
The new charter is meant to replace the one drafted and approved in late 2012 under ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood group.
It is the described by army chief and Defense Minister Abdel- Fattah al-Sisi, who carried out Morsi's removal, as "one-third of the future roadmap," which will be followed by presidential and parliamentary elections within six months.
Egyptian political experts see that the sweeping "yes" votes reflect popular support for the military-outlined post-Morsi future roadmap and may urge Sisi to run for president.
Voters during the referendum raised flags of Egypt, posters of Sisi and played national pro-military songs via loudspeakers.
Since Morsi's ouster by the military in early July 2013, Islamists have been holding anti-government protests, denouncing Morsi's ouster as "a military coup" and the new constitutional as "illegitimate。