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US applauds Egypt on constitutional reforms

world Updated: Mar 22, 2011 08:08 IST

Applauding Egyptians for voting overwhelmingly in the March 19 referendum, US has said that is an important step towards realizing the aspiration of the people.

"We applaud the March 19th referendum. Egyptians took an important step towards realizing the aspirations of the January 25th revolution," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

According to preliminary results, about 40% of Egypt's eligible voters participated, and the constitutional referendum passed with 77% of the vote.

"Certainly, the sight of Egyptians coming forward in unprecedented numbers to peacefully exercise their newly won freedoms is cause for great optimism, will provide a foundation for further progress as the Egyptians continue to build on their democratic future," Toner said.

The State Department spokesman said it is important to focus on the substance of the referendum rather than other issues.

"Candidates will now have three ways to get on the presidential ballot, that the President can now only serve two four-year terms, the President now obligated to appoint at least one vice president and the judiciary’s return to active supervision of elections," he said adding that these are positive trends.

"Egypt is under tremendous pressure right now as they move towards elections, and we feel that this is progress," the spokesman said.

A day earlier, Obama's National Security Advisor, Tom Donilon, had congratulated the Egyptian people and the Egyptian government on the successful running of the constitutional referendum.

"The accounts that we're seeing suggests that Egyptians turned out in unprecedented numbers today; that, by and large, they were able to vote freely and the vote was conducted in a peaceful, orderly fashion.

It's really an important achievement," he said.

"Seeing so many Egyptians exercise their newly won freedom is a cause for optimism, and it will provide a foundation for further progress as the Egyptians continue to build a democratic future.

The US will continue to provide whatever support and assistance we can as Egypt continues on its path towards additional free and fair elections and a government that reflects the aspirations of its people," Donilon said.

"We've had a very significant event in Egypt today, which really is, given its size and importance in history, at the center of what's been going on in the Middle East over the last few months," he said.