CAIRO (AFP) - Egyptians voted 77% in favour of the militarys plans for a swift return to civilian rule after mass protests ousted president Hosni Mubarak last month, official results showed Sunday. More than 14 million Egyptians, or 77.2% of those who voted, approved the constitutional amendments intended to guide the Arab worlds most populous nation through new presidential and parliamentary elections within six months, organising commission chairman Mohammed Attiya said. Four million, or 22.8%, said no, Attiya told a news conference. A total of 41% or 18.5 million of the estimated 45 million eligible voters turned out on Saturday to seize their first taste of democracy, after 18 days of demonstrations ended Mubaraks 30 years of authoritarian rule, he added. The turnout for Mubarak-era elections was always minuscule as none was genuinely competitive and in any case nobody had any faith their vote would count amid widespread vote-rigging and fraud. The referendum on the limited changes to the constitution inherited from the Mubarak regime had been bitterly fought. The youth groups which spearheaded the protest movement, and a host of secular political parties and opposition figures, called for a no vote, saying the timetable being set by the military was too tight for new movements to organise at grass-roots level. But the changes were supported by the Muslim Brotherhood powerful and well-organised despite being outlawed under Mubarak and elements of his former ruling National Democratic Party. The military council, which has ruled Egypt since Mubaraks resignation on Feburary 11, was also widely perceived to back the changes, although its members remained studiously non-partisan in all their official pronouncements. The armys stock has been running high ever since it sided with the protesters against Mubarak. The military council has been keen to hand over the reins of power as quickly as possible and keep the army above the political fray. It gave a panel of experts just 10 days to draw up the amendments put to Saturdays referendum, which was held only five weeks after Mubaraks ouster. The changes are by themselves uncontroversial, although critics argued they did not go nearly far enough in overhauling the Mubarak-era charter, which they said needed to be completely rewritten. The president will serve a maximum of two four-year terms and will no longer have the power to refer civilians to the military courts. The state of emergency which has governed Egyptian life for decades will be able to be imposed for just six months without endorsement in a popular referendum. Restrictions on who can stand for president will be eased, if not entirely relaxed, and judicial supervision of all elections will be restored to prevent vote-rigging. Leaders of the Coptic Christian minority, which makes up as much as 10 percent of Egypts population, also urged a 'no vote after no representative of the community was appointed to the panel of experts. But for many ordinary Egyptians, the pace of change after decades of authoritarian rule has been extraordinary, and a step-by-step transition to democracy and renewed stability had great appeal. I am happy that this is the first time in my life that I am voting, said Sayed Mursi, 80, as he waited to cast his vote in Cairos twin city of Giza, site of the famed Pyramids. I am going to vote 'yes because it should be step by step. We need time to change Egypt. On a visit to Cairo, senior US Senator John Kerry described as very exciting the unprecedented turnout for Saturdays vote. People voted for the first time in 30 years, not knowing what the outcome would be and I think its a very good sign for the steps ahead, a very good sign, he said. Kerry, who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was speaking to reporters as he toured Cairos iconic Tahrir Square, epicentre of the protests that ended Mubaraks rule.