Egyptians have narrowly backed an Islamist constitution in the first round of a referendum over the contentious draft, unofficial figures showed on Sunday, even as the opposition accused the Muslim Brotherhood of “vote rigging” and rights groups demanded a re-poll. Rival camp officials said the Egyptians had voted narrowly in favour of the draft, citing the unofficial figures, after the first round of the two-stage referendum held on Saturday.

The Muslim Brotherhood said the group’s tallies showed that 56.5 per cent of voters had supported the constitution, while 43 per cent had voted ‘no’.

The figures had fallen short of the landslide President Mohamed Morsy had been hoping for. The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) had representatives posted at almost every polling place in the 10 areas.

Opposition officials also said the vote appeared to have narrowly gone in favour of the ‘yes’ camp, the Al Jazeera news channel reported.

A majority of the voters in Cairo have rejected the draft, with 57 per cent opposing it. In Gharbiya governorate, 52 per cent opposed the draft, the Egypt Independent newspaper reported.

However, the support for the draft was received in governorates like South Sinai (63 per cent), North Sinai (82 per cent), Sohag (79 per cent) Assiut (76 per cent) Sharqiya (66 per cent) and Aswan (74 per cent), it said. The second round of the referendum is scheduled for next Saturday, after which the official result would be announced.

The National Salvation Front, the umbrella opposition group, said it was deeply concerned about irregularities, such as directing voters outside polling stations to vote ‘yes’ The group expressed “deep concern... over the number of irregularities and violations in the holding of the referendum”. This, pointed to a “clear desire for vote-rigging by the Muslim Brotherhood”. The allegations also include unsealed ballot papers and absence of judges to monitor the polls.

Meanwhile, representatives of seven rights groups demanded a re-poll , alleging that the Election Commission did not investigate thousands of complaints on violations.

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