Egypt referendum

An Egyptian woman dances in front of a polling station on Wednesday while holding a poster of Egypt's defense minister, Gen. Abdel Fattah Sisi, and a national flag on the second day of voting in the country's constitutional referendum in Cairo. (Khalil Hamra / AP / January 16, 2014)

CAIRO -- More than 98% of Egyptians voted in favor of a new constitution heavily promoted by Egypt’s military-backed government, according to final official results released Saturday.

Results of the referendum held Tuesday and Wednesday were depicted by the military-backed interim government as a public repudiation of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement that Egyptian authorities have spent the last six months trying to crush.

The tally of 98.1% in favor tracked with unofficial results that had been released two days earlier, which suggested overwhelming backing.

According to the official results, voter turnout was 38.6%, slightly higher than the unofficial tallies had suggested, and more than 5 percentage points higher than turnout in a constitutional referendum last year, during the tenure of since-ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Egyptian officials had expressed determination to bring more voters to the polls than had turned out for the Morsi-era vote.

The new constitution, drafted by a government-appointed panel, enhances some personal freedoms and promotes women’s rights, but also strengthens the hand of Egypt’s military. The country’s military chief, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Sisi, said before the balloting that he would consider a big win to be an expression of the people’s will that he run for president.

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laura.king@latimes.com

@laurakingLAT

Hassan is a special correspondent and King a Times staff writer.