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Egypt votes on a new constitution as vice president quits

NBC's Ayman Mohyeldin has more on today's voting in Egypt on an Islamist-backed constitution that was drafted by President Mohammed Morsi. Journalist Mona Eltahawy and Rula Jebreal then join MSNBC to weigh in on the situation.

Updated 10:30 p.m. ET: CAIRO - As Egypt on Saturday held a final voting round on a new constitution drafted by an assembly dominated by Islamists, the country's vice president resigned, according to government-run television.

Mahmoud Mekki, a judge, had said he intended to quit if the new constitution, which eliminates the post of vice president, was adopted. 

But a statement attributed to Mekki hinted that his hurried departure might be linked to the policies of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

He said he first submitted his resignation last month but events forced him to stay on.

Preliminary results released Sunday by Morsi's party, the Muslim Brotherhood, showed that the disputed constitution had received a "yes" majority of more than 70 percent in the second and final round of voting.

An official from Egypt's main opposition group, which campaigned against the constitution, also said that its unofficial count indicated the document was approved. 


"I have realized a while ago that the nature of politics don't suit my professional genesis as a judge," he wrote.

Saturday's vote followed a first-round vote last Saturday that unofficial results showed as giving 57 percent approval for the constitution.

The preliminary results, posted on the Brotherhood's website early Sunday and reported by The Associated Press, show that eight of the 25 million Egyptians eligible to vote -- a turnout of about 30 percent -- cast their ballots Saturday. Official results won't be known for several weeks.

The vote has been staggered, with about half the 51 million eligible voters covered in each round, because many judges needed to supervise the vote have boycotted the polls to protest the referendum in sympathy with the opposition.

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The opposition said voting in the first round was littered with abuses. Officials overseeing the poll said there were no major irregularities.


"I'm voting 'no' because Egypt can't be ruled by one faction," said Karim Nahas, 35, a stock market broker, heading to a polling station in Giza, a province included in this round of voting which covers parts of greater Cairo.

"Had the constituent assembly been representative of all Egyptians in the first place, we wouldn't have been in this situation," he said, after deadly violence marred the build-up to the referendum.

Liberals, Christians and others quit the drafting assembly, which was dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist allies of Morsi, saying their voices were not being heard.

Television footage showed some early queues at polling stations in areas of the country covered by this stage of the poll.

If the constitution is approved, a parliamentary election will follow in about two months.

Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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