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Morsi Says New Constitution Will Bring Stability

Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi voting in the constitutional referendum in Cairo on December 15.
Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi has hailed a new constitution backed by his Islamist allies, saying it will bring stability to the country.

In his first televised address since the constitution was adopted, Morsi on December 26 said Egyptians had endorsed the document in a "totally transparent" referendum.

Official results released showed 63.8 percent of voters backed the constitution -- but less than one-third of Egypt's 52 million eligible voters cast ballots in the referendum.

Morsi, who earlier signed the new constitution, also urged all political powers to take part in a dialogue on national unity.

Opposition supporters reject the constitution saying it fails to guarantee democratic freedoms and the rights of women and minorities.

The two-round referendum earlier this month was preceded by weeks of opposition protests.

In his speech, Morsi acknowledged Egypt had gone through what he called "disquieting" weeks of unrest. But he said controversial decisions he had taken in the run-up to the referendum were always made "in the interests of the nation."

He rejected allegations of fraud and said the new constitution was endorsed by the Egyptian people "at their own free will."

He also said that differences of opinion were "healthy," but said all should "reject violence."

He promised to tackle the country's economic crisis and said he was consulting with the prime minister on making changes to the cabinet. Egypt has been in political turmoil since the uprising that toppled longtime leader Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.

The political unrest has taken a heavy toll on the Egyptian economy. On December 26, the Egyptian pound fell to its weakest level against the U.S. dollar in almost eight years.

Many Egyptians are rushing to buy dollars and withdraw their savings from banks amid concerns the currency would continue to devalue.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP

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