Irregularities charged in Egypt vote
- December 16, 2012 - 8:37 PM
Egyptian rights groups called Sunday for a repeat of the first round of the constitutional referendum, alleging the vote was marred by widespread violations. Islamists who back the disputed charter claimed they were in the lead with a majority of "yes" votes, though official results have not been announced. Representatives of seven rights groups charged that there was insufficient supervision by judges in Saturday's vote in 10 of Egypt's 27 provinces and independent monitors were prevented from witnessing vote counts.
The representatives told a news conference that they had reports of individuals falsely identifying themselves as judges, of women prevented from voting, and that members of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood were allowed inside polling stations.
They also complained that some polling centers closed earlier than scheduled and that Christians were denied entry to voting centers.
BOYCOTT URGED ON ISRAELI PRODUCTS
The Palestinian premier called on his people Sunday to boycott Israeli products, the latest step in an economic battle between Palestinians and Israelis spurred by the Palestinians' status upgrade last month at the United Nations.
Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad, a U.S.-educated economist, told reporters the call for a boycott is a protest against Israel's withholding of funds to the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority.
Israel is holding $100 million in taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinians, based on an interim peace accord. It cut off the funds to protest the Palestinians' successful bid last month at the United Nations, which Israel said was an attempt to bypass peace negotiations. Palestinians deny that.
Israel has briefly withheld tax transfers on previous occasions to pressure the Palestinians.
NORTHERN IRAQ TARGETED BY BOMBINGS
Bombings rattled two cities in disputed areas in Iraq's north on Sunday, killing at least eight people and raising concerns that extremists are trying to exploit ethnic tensions in the country.
The deadliest series of blasts struck Shiite Muslim targets in the northern city of Kirkuk. Police Maj. Imad Qadir said those attacks killed six people and wounded 36.
Kirkuk is 180 miles north of Baghdad and is home to a mix of Arabs, Kurds and Turkomen. Each of the ethnic groups has competing claims to the oil-rich area. The Kurds want to incorporate it into their self-ruled region in Iraq's north, but Arabs and Turkomen are opposed.
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