CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's military chief urged voters Saturday to cast their ballots in next week's constitutional referendum, saying that a promising future awaits the country with the charter's passage after months of political division and turmoil.
The last time Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi appealed to the public, he drew millions to the street in July to support what he called a fight against "possible terrorism." Now, he's asking for Egypt's more than 52 million voters to support the rewritten constitution that paves the way for presidential and parliamentary elections.
El-Sissi is the preferred presidential candidate for many, with groups already lobbying for him to run. The 59 year old has not said whether he will, but his call appears aimed at garnering a high turnout in a constitutional poll some have described as a vote of confidence in the general himself.
El-Sissi spoke at a military-organized function and the state news agency MENA carried his comments. He said the armed forces and the police will secure voting amid fears that those calling for a boycott of the referendum will disrupt it.
"Egypt's sons are certain of success because right is on our side," he told a gathering of public and religious figures, politicians and military officers.
Egyptians are to vote Tuesday and Wednesday on a heavily amended version of an Islamist-drafted charter enacted under toppled Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
The 2012 charter was one of the main reasons fueling opposition to Morsi, prompting massive protests against him. The military, under el-Sissi's command, then removed Morsi from office.
A large turnout and a strong "yes" vote would give legitimacy and a boost to the political plan endorsed by el-Sissi and largely supported by secular political groups calling for subsequent presidential and parliamentary elections.
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