Kerry to Egypt: Democracy requires 'compromise, vigilance'

Secretary of State John Kerry said that the transition to democracy would require “compromise, vigilance, and constant tending” after the interim Egyptian government announced that more than 98 percent of voters cast a ballot in favor of a new constitution.

“The draft Egyptian constitution passed a public referendum this week, but it's what comes next that will shape Egypt’s political, economic and social framework for generations,” Kerry said.

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Saturday’s vote was seen largely as an effort to legitimize the military ouster of democratically-elected President Mohammed Morsi last year. 

Morsi’s Islamist policies drew large-scale protests in Cairo, prompting Gen. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi to take control of the government and suspend a constitution written by Morsi.

The framework that passed in Saturday’s vote will replace that document, and new presidential and parliamentary elections are expected in the coming months.

Still, violent clashes continue in the country and human rights advocates accused the military of jailing dissenters ahead of the vote. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood said they were boycotting the election in protest of Morsi’s ouster.

The government reported that 38.6 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot.

On Saturday, Kerry said he “strongly encouraged” Cairo to pursue a “fully inclusive process” as the next round of elections approached.

“We have consistently expressed our serious concern about the limits on freedom of peaceful assembly and expression in Egypt, including leading up to the referendum, just as we expressed our concerns about the dangerous path Egypt's elected government had chosen in the year that lead to 2013's turbulence,” Kerry said.

“The United States again urges all sides to condemn and prevent violence and to move towards an inclusive political process based on the rule of law and respect for the fundamental freedoms of all Egyptians.”