CAIRO -- Egypt’s leading opposition group urged its followers Wednesday to vote against an Islamist-drafted constitution, ending weeks of indecision over whether anti-government protesters should boycott a referendum set for this weekend.
The move by the National Salvation Front will be a pivotal test for an opposition that appears to lack enough widespread support to derail a referendum backed by President Mohamed Morsi and the powerful Muslim Brotherhood. The opposition has revived the country’s revolutionary fervor but has been marred by divisions and poor organization.
The National Salvation Front “decided to call upon the people to go to the polling stations and reject the draft by saying 'no,'" said Hamdeen Sabahi, a former presidential candidate and one of the group’s leaders. "The people will rally at the polls and have a chance to topple the constitution.”
Perhaps sensing a possible setback, he added: “The referendum is not the end of our journey.”
The Front said its decision was contingent upon whether the nation’s polling stations would be monitored by judges and protected by security forces. Many judges, angry at Morsi’s recent power grab, have refused to supervise the referendum. That forced the Islamist leader to announce that voting would be held over two successive weekends – beginning Saturday – so participating judges can be rotated around the country.