Egypt's security chief on Monday warned supporters of the ousted Islamist president that troops guarding polls during the next day's constitutional referendum will deal with anyone attempting to disrupt the vote with unprecedented force, the Associated Press reports.
Authorities consider the draft charter to be a milestone in a military-backed transition road map put in place after Mohammed Morsi was overthrown in a popularly backed military coup last July.
"I am telling them, they will be faced with force, decisiveness and strength never seen before," Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim told state TV, adding: "everyone rest assured ... we are watching your back."
State TV showed Ibrahim inspecting some of the 350,000 police and army personnel — including special forces and paratroopers backed by armored vehicles and helicopters — currently being deployed to streets across the country to secure the polls and encourage a high turnout.
The Jan 14-15 vote provides the country's increasingly popular military chief, Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, with a first electoral test since he ousted Morsi. A comfortable "yes" vote and a respectable turnout would be seen as bestowing legitimacy, while undermining the Islamists' argument that Morsi remains the nation's elected president.
Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, which fell from power and is now branded as a terrorist group, has called for a boycott of the vote as well.
In its latest statement, a Brotherhood-led alliance said: "the blood of Egyptians is not a ladder to take over the seat of the kidnapped President." Regarding whether to vote "yes" or "no" on the document, it added: "The boycott is the only way."
Morsi is on trial over several charges, including inciting killing of protesters, conspiring with foreign groups and orchestrating jailbreaks during 2011 uprising which forced his predecessor Hosni Mubarak from power.