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Egypt to hold constitutional referendum in January: PM

Egypt's Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi speaks during a news conference in Abu Dhabi October 27, 2013. REUTERS/Ben Job
Egypt's Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi speaks during a news conference in Abu Dhabi October 27, 2013. REUTERS/Ben Job

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi said on Monday he expects a referendum on the constitution now being drafted to take place in January, not next month as previously expected.

The interim government, installed after the army ousted the country's first democratically elected leader, Islamist Mohamed Mursi, on July 3, has announced a roadmap that could lead to presidential and parliamentary elections next year.

"I believe that it (the referendum) will take place in the second half of January," Beblawi told reporters, giving no reason for the delay.

A committee of 50 members, few of whom are Islamists, began work in September on amending the constitution that was pushed through by Mursi last year.

The army had given it a 60-day deadline to complete the draft, which would then be put to a referendum.

Leaks of draft amendments of the new constitution show a desire to curb the influence of Islamic laws and ease rules banning officials from the Mubarak era to run for office.

(Reporting by Asma Alsharif; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

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