* Critics say new constitution is divisive
* People anxious over economy, rush to take out savings
* Opposition says disappointed but no protests planned
* Prime minister says stability is key to economic growth
* U.S. calls for sides to engage, oppose violence
CAIRO, Dec 25 (Reuters) - Egyptian voters overwhelmingly
approved a constitution drafted by President Mohamed Mursi's
allies, results announced on Tuesday showed, proving that
liberals, leftists and Christians have been powerless to halt
the march of Islamists in power.
Final elections commission figures showed the constitution
adopted with 63.8 percent of the vote in the referendum held
over two days this month, giving Mursi's Islamists their third
straight electoral victory since veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak
was toppled in a 2011 revolution.
Opposition groups had taken to the streets to block what
they see as a move to ram through a charter that mixes politics
and religion dangerously and ignores the rights of minorities.
Mursi says the text - Egypt's first constitution since
Mubarak's fall - offers enough protection for minorities, and
adopting it quickly is necessary to end two years of turmoil and
political uncertainty that has wrecked the economy.
"I hope all national powers will now start working together
now to build a new Egypt," Murad Ali, a senior official in the
Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, told Reuters.
"I see this as the best constitution in Egypt's history."
In a sign that weeks of unrest have taken a further toll on
the economy, the government ordered new restrictions on foreign
currency apparently designed to prevent capital flight. Leaving
or entering with more than $10,000 cash is now banned.
Two years since waves of unrest broke out across the Middle
East and North Africa - sweeping away long-entrenched rulers in
Tunisia, Libya and Yemen as well as Egypt - well-organised
Islamist parties have emerged as the main beneficiaries.
Urban secularists and liberals who were behind the revolts
complain that their success has been hijacked.
"We need a better constitution," said Khaled Dawood, an
opposition spokesman. "It does not represent all Egyptians."
Mursi's opponents say the new constitution could allow
clerics to intervene in lawmaking, while offering scant
protections to minorities and women. Mursi dismisses those
criticisms, and many Egyptians are fed up with street protest
movements that have prevented a return to normality.
Immediately after the announcement, a small group of
protesters set tyres on fire and blocked traffic near the
central Tahrir square, the cradle of Egypt's uprising, but there
were no immediate signs of violence or major demonstrations.
Washington, which provides billions of dollars a year in
military and other support for Egypt and regards it as a pillar
of security in the Middle East, called on Egyptian politicians
to bridge divisions and on all sides to reject violence.
"President Mursi, as the democratically elected leader of
Egypt, has a special responsibility to move forward in a way
that recognises the urgent need to bridge divisions," State
Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said. He noted that many
Egyptians had voiced "significant concerns" over the
The government says its opponents are worsening the economic
crisis by prolonging political upheaval. It has pledged to
impose unpopular tax increases and spending cuts to win a loan
package from the International Monetary Fund.
The ban on travelling with more than $10,000 in cash
followed a pledge by the central bank to take unspecified
measures to protect Egyptian banks. Some Egyptians have begun
withdrawing their savings in fear of more restrictions.
"I am not going to put any more money in the bank and
neither will many of the people I know," said Ayman Osama,
father of two young children.
He said he had taken out the equivalent of about $16,000
from his account this week and planned to withdraw more, adding
that he had also told his wife to buy more gold jewellery.
The "yes" vote paves the way for a parliamentary election in
about two months, setting the stage for another battle between
surging Islamists and their fractious opponents.
The final result, announced by the election commission,
matched - to the last decimal place - an earlier unofficial
tally announced by Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood.
But the opposition said it was disappointed - it had
appealed for the result to be amended to reflect what it
described as major vote violations during the two-round vote.
Officials said there were no violations serious enough to
change the result significantly. "We have seriously investigated
all the complaints," said judge Samir Abu el-Matti of the
Supreme Election Committee. The final turnout was 32.9 percent.
SENSE OF CRISIS
The referendum has sharpened painful divisions in the Arab
world's most populous nation and a growing atmosphere of crisis
has gripped Egypt's polarised society.
Anxiety about the economy deepened this week when Standard
and Poor's cut Egypt's long-term credit rating. Prime Minister
Hisham Kandil told the nation of 83 million on Tuesday the
government was committed to fixing the economy.
"The main goals that the government is working towards now
is plugging the budget deficit, and working on increasing growth
to boost employment rates, curb inflation, and increase the
competitiveness of Egyptian exports," he said.
The referendum follows Islamist victories in parliamentary
and presidential elections, representing a decisive shift in a
country at the heart of the Arab world where Mursi's Muslim
Brotherhood was suppressed for generations by military rulers.
However, secularist and liberal opposition members hope they
can organise better in time for the next parliamentary vote.
Hossam El-Din Ali, a 35-year-old newspaper vendor in central
Cairo, said he agreed the new constitution would help bring some
political stability but like many others he feared the possible
economic austerity measures lying ahead.
"People don't want higher prices. People are upset about
this," he said. "There is recession, things are not moving. But
I am wishing for the best, God willing."