Egyptian military’s draft constitution causes unrest
An Egyptian protester waves the national flag during a demonstration at Tahrir Square against the ruling military council in Cairo in this file photo. AP photoA government-sponsored draft of guidelines for a new constitution has kicked a political storm in Egypt, with critics decrying it as an attempt by the ruling military to enshrine a supreme political role for itself.
The proposal shields the military from parliamentary oversight, gives it a veto over legislation dealing with its affairs and reduces the powers of parliament to select a panel to write the constitution.
Critics say the document would create a military state within the state. The uproar over the draft, which dominated the nation’s press yesterday, has deepened tension between political activists and rights groups and the military ahead of this month’s key parliamentary elections.
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood threatened Nov. 2 to bring its supporters out onto the streets over the military government’s plans to set out the basics of a new constitution. The Brotherhood and other smaller parties, most of them also Islamist, said that one million people would protest nationwide on Nov. 18 if the plans to pre-empt the promised People’s Assembly to be elected early next year were not abandoned.
The Islamists were reacting to comments by Deputy Prime Minister Ali al-Salmi in Nov. 2’s edition of the state-owned daily Al-Ahram in which he said the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces was “carefully considering” a plan for a “declaration of basic principles.” The Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, called for Salmi’s resignation. “The national forces will not allow a small minority to impose its will on everyone,” he said, reading a statement in the name of the party and its electoral allies. He said that the government should “remember what happened to the system of the corrupt, all-powerful tyrant,” a reference to the mass revolt which overthrew veteran president Hosni Mubarak’s regime in February.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s ruling generals have announced the pardon of 334 civilians who were sentenced in military tribunals since the uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak in February. The statement posted on its Facebook page Nov. 2, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces however did not say what those pardoned were sentenced for or when they would be released. It said the names would be released later.
Compiled from AP and AFP stories by the Daily News staff.