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News Link • Voting and Elections

Egyptians Go to the Polls as Regional Turmoil Continues

Egyptians flocked to the polls in huge numbers today for a referendum on constitutional reforms that will determine how soon the country can hold full elections. The poll is the country's first free vote in living memory, with the electorate split between those who want to amend the existing constitution in order to expedite full elections, and those who insist the document should be redrafted in its entirety. "It is too early to tell what the voter turnout is, but it is clear that this is unprecedented," said one election monitor. Elsewhere in the region, protestors continued to clash with security forces. Syrian troops opened fire on protesters in a provincial city, killing three people and sparking calls for further demonstrations, while Yemen declared a state of emergency after dozens of demonstrators were gunned down by snipers. In Bahrain, officials tore down a monument that had been used as a rallying point by pro-democracy protestors. "We don't want a monument to a bad memory," the country's foreign minister said. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, former British leader Tony Blair argues that the West should be less apologetic for intervening in Middle Eastern affairs, and calls for a "Marshall Plan-type initiative" to fan the flames of democratic and economic reform in the region.

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