Egypt's vice president resigns as country votes on controversial constitution
Mahmoud Mekky had postponed his resignation in order to assist President Morsi with Egypt's political crisis; Egyptians vote in second and final phase of referendum on the Islamist-backed constitution.
Egypt's vice president resigned from his post on Saturday, saying he wanted to quit last month but had only stayed on to help President Mohamed Morsi tackle a political crisis.
Mahmoud Mekky, a well-known judge before he took the post, played a leading role in hosting "national unity" talks called by Morsi, although the main opposition politicians stayed away.
Mekky previously said he would step down once a new constitution being put to a vote was approved, as the post of vice president was not outlined in the charter. He had also said he was not privy to Morsi's decree on Nov. 22 to expand his powers that sparked crisis.
Also on Saturday, Egypt's state television reported that Central Bank Governor Farouk El-Okadah resigned, saying his deputy Hisham Ramez is the most likely candidate to fill his post. The report, however, was later denied by Egypt's cabinet spokesman.
Earlier, Egypt extended voting by four hours on in the second and decisive round of a referendum that was expected to approve the country's new Islamist-drafted constitution after weeks of protests and violence.
Islamist supporters of Morsi, who was elected in June, say the charter is vital to move Egypt towards democracy, nearly two years after an Arab Spring revolution overthrew authoritarian ruler Hosni Mubarak. It will help restore the stability needed to fix an economy that is on the ropes, they say.
But the opposition says the document is divisive and has accused Morsi of pushing through a text that favors his Islamist allies while ignoring the rights of Christians, who make up about 10 percent of the population, as well as women.
In a letter by Vice President Mekky that was sent out by the presidency, he said he had worked hard for the nation in his post but that he had "realized for some time that the nature of political work did not suit his professional background as a judge."
He said he had first submitted his resignation on Nov.7, but it was postponed when Egypt was acting as mediator to try to reach a truce deal in Gaza and then because of other demands, such as helping to organize the "national dialogue."
That dialogue aimed at resolving a row with the opposition over M0rsi's extra powers and his decision to fast-track the constitution drafted by an Islamist-dominated assembly to a vote.
In final remarks, Mekky said he had worked hard for the "interests of the nation" and wished continued success to Morsi, who was propelled to power by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Mekky was a leading member of a group of independent judges that started campaigning during the last year's of Hosni Mubarak's rule, when he was jailed for speaking out against election rigging.