Egyptian nationwide referendum passed overwhelmingly

A nationwide referendum to open the way for the country's first multicandidate &to=http:// ' target=_blank>presidential elections passed overwhelmingly, officials announced Thursday, saying more voters participated than in any previous similar balloting.

The results mean President &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Hosni Mubarak, the country's 24-year leader, will face opposition when he runs for a fifth term in September. But critics say the law, which allows candidates to run only with approval from Mubarak's party, is a sham.

Official results showed 83 percent of voters approved the constitutional changes in balloting Wednesday that was marred by scattered violence.

Turnout was 54 percent of registered voters - a figure the Interior Ministry said was higher than in any previous presidential referendum, tells the Guardian Unlimited.

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