EU’s Ashton Welcomes Egypt’s ‘Largely Orderly’ Constitution Vote

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has welcomed Egypt’s constitution referendum, saying she expects the document to set the scene for civilian rule.

“I would like to congratulate the Egyptian people and the authorities responsible for organizing the vote in a largely orderly manner,” the EU high representative said in a statement on Sunday.

Egyptians overwhelmingly approved the new constitution, replacing the 2012 Islamist-drafted document in a referendum last week by more than 98 percent, in what the government hailed as a public seal of approval for the overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Ashton noted the EU could not assess or verify alleged irregularities in the poll, but said they “do not appear to have fundamentally affected the outcome.”

The high representative said she “strongly regretted” the violence that took place during and after the two-day referendum that left several dead in Cairo and other cities.

A turnout of below 40 percent in the vote might be the result of “events ahead of the referendum,” Ashton noted without elaborating.

She added that an ample majority of votes in favor constitutes a clear endorsement of the charter.

Ashton said that she expects the new constitution to be applied “in a way that gives full effect to civilian preeminence.”