A referendum in Egypt has delivered a 98.1 per cent approval of the new constitution, according to officials.

Nabil Salib, head of the High Elections Committee (HEC) said 38.6 per cent of the registered voters took part in the nationwide vote, which surpasses the 32 per cent turnout of the referendum in 2012.

The previous constitution was drawn up by former president Mohamed Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood-backed government. The document was criticised for giving too much power to the brotherhood.

This year’s vote was boycotted by brotherhood members, who called the referendum “illegitimate” and a “farce”.

The overwhelming “yes’ vote was in part due to the complete absence of a ‘no’ campaign.

In the weeks running up to the election, human rights groups spoke out against efforts to quash ‘no’ campaigns against the constitution. Political activists have been allegedly arrested for hanging up ‘no’ vote posters.

The vote took place relatively peacefully with no large-scale protests. There were some outbreaks of violence on the first day, which resulted in a number of deaths.

Parliamentary and presidential elections are due to take place following the constitution vote.

Army chief General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is expected by many to run as president, but as yet has not put his name forward.

The US reaction to the referendum has been reserved. The US has urged the interim government to “to fully implement those rights and freedoms that are guaranteed in the new constitution”.

The US has previously voiced its concerns about the current government’s attempts to limit the population’s right to protest peacefully and urges all political organisations to work towards an “inclusive political process”.

In the UAE, Foreign Affairs Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan referred to the vote as a “major milestone towards the roadmap for the future, which will usher sisterly Egypt into the aspired stability and development”.

The Gulf country, along with its neighbours Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, have extended billions of dollars of foreign aid to Egypt following the military ousting of Mursi in July last year.