Jan. 15 - Egypt marks a milestone in its political roadmap with a ballot vote on a draft constitution, even as rights groups complain the government stifled dissent and made a ''no'' campaign impossible. Mana Rabiee reports.
Egyptians marked a milestone in their political roadmap on Wednesday. They gave their thumbs up -- or thumbs down -- to a new constitution. The first vote since the military deposed former President Mohammed Mursi in July. (SOUNDBITE)(Arabic) EGYPTIAN VOTER, HISHAM MOHAMED MOUSSA, SAYING: "God willing a large percentage of the public will vote 'yes', and for one main reason - we have been through great hardship and been worn out. So for sure today people will agree on something." The draft constitution deletes Islamic language written into law a year ago under Mursi. It strengthens the apparatus that defied his rule - the army, the police and judiciary. It may also set the stage for a presidential bid by army chief General al-Sisis. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) EGYPTIAN WOMAN, SALWA MOSTAFA, SAYING: "I have come to say 'yes' to the constitution and 'yes' to Sisi because I love him dearly. My kids say that's wrong, but I want him to be the President of Egypt." Security at polling stations was high. Nine people were killed during the first day of voting on Tuesday -- in confrontations between police and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, which called for a boycott. And Cairo's Tahrir square - the boisterous epicenter of previous demonstrations... …quiet. The constitutional ballot is expected to easily pass. But rights groups say the government stifled dissent and made it all but impossible for a "no" campaign.