Mubarak Wins 94 Percent of Vote
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ President Hosni Mubarak will be sworn in for his fourth term, after a vote tally Monday showed he won 94 percent of the vote in a weekend referendum on his presidency.
A close ally of the United States, the 71-year-old Mubarak was the only candidate in Sunday’s yes-or-no vote. It was the first time the ``yes″ vote has fallen below 95 percent in a presidential referendum.
Of Egypt’s 24 million eligible voters, 79 percent cast ballots.
Opposition groups boycotted the vote. Their leaders want democracy, including direct, multiparty elections and the lifting of the state of emergency which has been in force since President Anwar Sadat was assassinated in 1981. They also want the freedom to form political parties and associations, which can only be created with the approval of a government committee.
Egypt’s Middle East News Agency reported that Mubarak has called for the parliament to convene on Oct. 5, when it is expected he will be sworn in for another six-year term.
Mubarak was quoted in Tuesday’s editions of Al Gomhuria newspaper as saying there will be a ``major change″ in the new government he will form after his new term begins. He did not elaborate.
Cairo was quiet Monday, a day after loudspeakers blared Mubarak’s praises and busloads of men chanted his name. But thousands of banners and posters bearing the president’s face still hung throughout the city
In previous referendums, Mubarak received more than 95 percent of the vote. In 1993, the last poll, he won 96 percent. During Sadat’s presidency, the ``Yes″ vote was invariably 99.9 percent.
Mubarak, who took office in 1981, issued a statement thanking the people for ``expressing their own free will.″
In his 18 years as president, Mubarak has significantly reduced Egypt’s foreign debt, balanced the budget and cut inflation to about 3 percent, making the country one of the more diverse and open economies in the Middle East.
Mubarak has also played the role of international meditator, pushing forward the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and prodding Libya toward surrendering the two suspects wanted for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.