Egypt’s draft charter opens up for debate

Egypt’s draft charter opens up for debate

Egypt’s draft charter opens up for debate

Female members of Egypt’s Parliament attend the first session in the post-Mubarak era in this file photo. The country’s new constitution will be ready next month. REUTERS photo

The panel writing Egypt’s new constitution released a partial draft of the document on Oct. 10, calling for a public debate in the face of mounting criticism over Islamists’ shaping of the charter.

The authority of Egypt’s head of state will be curbed by Parliament, according to a partial draft of the new constitution. In another break with the past, the draft indicates that future prime ministers would need to win a vote of confidence in Parliament, implying the head of state must pick someone acceptable to the parliamentary majority.

The campaign, labeled “Know Your Constitution,” comes as the 100 members of the assembly are still haggling over controversial articles in the constitution, some of which will determine the role of religion in the country’s affairs and the independence of the judiciary. The partial draft made public also did not include sections still under debate over the role of the military and the extent of civilian oversight over its budget.

One article introduced by Islamists that came under heated debate puts limitations on equality between men and women in accordance with Islamic laws. In a sign that the role of religion in legislation has not yet been settled, another article that would install Al-Azhar, Egypt’s premier Sunni Islamic institution, as the sole body authorized to interpret religious laws, did not appear in the draft. That suggested that the assembly had not yet settled that issue. Panel members have said they expected to finish writing the draft charter as early as next month. The new constitution then will have to be put to a public referendum within 30 days.

Compiled from AP and Reuters stories by Daily News staff.