Egypt's new constitution approved in referendum

President Mohamed Morsi wins support for measure amid growing fears for Egyptian economy

Egypt's electoral commission announced on Tuesday that voters had approved overwhelmingly the constitution drafted by President Mohamed Morsi's Islamist allies.

Final figures from the elections commission showed the constitution was backed by 63.8% of voters, giving Islamists their third straight victory at the polls since Hosni Mubarak was toppled in a 2011 revolution. The yes vote, on an official turnout of 32.9%, paves the way for a parliamentary election in about two months' time.

Morsi's leftist, liberal, secularist and Christian opponents had taken to the streets to protest, saying the new constitution would dangerously mix politics and religion, but the president insists it offers sufficient protection for minorities and is necessary to end two years of turmoil and political uncertainty that has wrecked the economy. Standard and Poor's cut Egypt's long-term credit rating on Monday.

Hours before the result was announced, the authorities imposed a new ban on travelling in or out of the country with more than $10,000 (£6,200) in foreign currency to halt capital flight. Some Egyptians had withdrawn their savings from banks in fear of tougher restrictions.

The result of the referendum, held on 15 December and 22 December, was a disappointment for the opposition which had put pressure on the authorities to recount the result to reflect what they have described as major vote violations.

"We have seriously investigated all the complaints," said judge Samir Abu el-Matti of the supreme election committee.

Cairo, gripped by often violent protests in the runup to the vote, appeared calm after the announcement and opposition groups have announced no plans for demonstrations to mark the result.

Prime minister Hisham Kandil said on Tuesday: "The main goals that the government is working towards now is plugging the budget deficit and working on increasing growth to boost employment rates, curb inflation, and increase the competitiveness of Egyptian exports."

The central bank said on Monday it would take steps to safeguard bank deposits, without giving any details.

"I have been hearing that the central bank is going to take over all our bank deposits to pay wages for government employees given the current deteriorating economic situation," said Ayman Osama, a father of two young children.

He said he had taken out the equivalent of about $16,000 from his account this week and planned to withdraw more and he had told his wife to buy more gold jewellery. "I am not going to put any more money in the bank and neither will many of the people I know," he said.

Hossam El-Din Ali, a 35-year-old newspaper vendor in central Cairo, said the new constitution would help bring some political stability but, like many others, he feared the possible economic austerity measures lying ahead.

"People don't want higher prices. People are upset about this," he said. "There is recession, things are not moving. But I am wishing for the best, God willing."