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Egypt's president receives draft constitution amid mixed reactions

English.news.cn   2013-12-04 03:48:25            

CAIRO, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- Egypt's constitution-writing panel on Tuesday handed over the final draft constitution to interim President Adly Mansour, a major development for the military- backed transitional roadmap, as the country still grapples with civil unrest.

Egypt's constituent assembly finalized the draft constitution on Sunday and a constitutional referendum is scheduled to be held in late January as stated by Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi last week.

"For our interests as Egyptians, we should participate in the referendum and vote yes," Amr Mousa, head of the constitution- draft panel at a press conference following the meeting with the interim president. He added that although parliamentary elections were scheduled to come before presidential elections, the new constitution may open the way for presidential elections to come first.

The interim president, who holds presidential powers until an elected president is sworn in, is charged with deciding when and how the elections will be held.

Mousa, a former Arab League secretary general and presidential candidate, emphasized the document would not be re-amended, saying "there is general consensus over the content and the articles of the constitution."

Egypt suspended its 2012 constitution, which was highly criticized as being in favor of Islamists, after former President Mohamed Morsi's ouster in early July. Soon afterwards, the army put forward a transitional roadmap that included the drafting of a new constitution.

Among the controversial issues raised during the amendment process were the electoral system, representation of minorities such as Coptic Christians, and articles banning discrimination.

The document, which is divided into four main parts comprising a total of 247 articles, has witnessed the addition of 42 articles, 18 of which are dedicated to matters of rights, freedom, and economic development.

PRESIDENCY AND ARMY POWERS

The draft constitution mandates that the president can only serve two four-year terms. Candidates must be at least 40 years old and be an Egyptian born to Egyptian parents. Neither the candidate, nor his parents, nor his wife may have foreign nationality.

The president is entitled to appoint a prime minister based on the approval of parliament. However, if parliament rejects the choice, the president must accept the nomination of another prime minister picked by the party or alliance that has the majority.

The president is permitted to dismiss the government or reshuffle the cabinet with the approval of the majority of parliament, which can also withdraw confidence from the president provided that the majority of its members approve the move.

As for the military budget, the document stipulated it will be discussed by a national defense council made up of top state officials including the president, the prime minister and the minister of defense. However, the constitution does not say who has the power to approve the budget.

The military trials of civilians are permitted for a range of crimes including assaults on military institutions, camps and vehicles. This article remains contentious and fueled protests that led to the arrest of several activists last week.

MIXED REACTIONS AND PROTESTS

Tuesday's developments came as at least 11 university students in Sharqiya province, were injured amid clashes between the Muslim Brotherhood supporters and the police.

The students condemned the draft constitution and a recent law regulating protests by chanting slogans against the armed forces, the official news agency MENA reported.

The National Alliance for Supporting Legitimacy, a pro-Morsi coalition, announced during its meeting with a delegation from the European Union on Tuesday, its full rejection for the new document, claiming adherence to the 2012 constitution.

Meanwhile, grass-rooted Tamarrud campaign, which motivated the mass protests on June 30 that ousted Morsi, called the Egyptian people to vote with yes on the constitution, describing it as "the best constitution ever in Egyptian history."

It added it will start a campaign to explain the constitution's articles and to urge citizens to back the implementation of the roadmap.

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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