News / Middle East

Egypt Prepares New Constitution

Egypt Prepares 4th Constitution Since 2010i
X
November 15, 2013 2:47 PM
Egypt is rewriting its constitution, with a small group appointed by the military-backed government overhauling the previous, Islamist driven charter. VOA's Elizabeth Arrott in Cairo reports on the effort so far.
Elizabeth Arrott
Egypt’s constitution is being rewritten by a small group appointed by the military-backed government, overhauling the previous, Islamist-driven charter. This will be the country’s fourth constitution in less than three years.
 
A 50-member committee is overseeing what's meant to be the first step of a “roadmap” to reshape Egypt's government following the July ousting of the country's first freely-elected president, Islamist Mohamed Morsi.
 
Morsi pushed through last year's charter, written mainly by Islamists, using extraordinary powers. The move sparked a wave of popular unrest and marked the beginning of his political decline.
 
For Morsi’s opponents, the potential for improving on the previous charter is vast.
 
“The constitution of the Muslim Brotherhood was, in my opinion, violating social and civil rights of the Egyptians. They tried to educate and re-educate Egyptians how to behave,” said Mustafa Labbad, the director of the Al Sharq Center for Regional and Strategic Studies.
 
Foremost among critics’ objections was what was perceived as an attempt to Islamize Egypt. The new draft, being drawn up by a group with noticeably few Islamists, promises to lift longstanding restrictions on Christian churches, but seems likely to retain overall limits on religious beliefs.
 
Political sociologist Said Sadek of the American University in Cairo said he wishes the country could move beyond recognizing only the Abrahamic faiths.
 
“It would have given the signal that Egypt is modern, into the 21st century, [that] it does not discriminate against 51 percent of the world's population who don't believe in Christianity, Islam and Judaism,” said Sadek.
 
Committee members are also tackling the other major issue in Egyptian politics today - the role of the military and the balance of power among branches of government. 
 
Few of the members have raised questions about the military's attempt to put protections for itself into the new constitution. Labbad is not surprised.
 
“Military institutions will be the dominant force in the upcoming political system and we have to confess, since at least 200 years [ago], Egyptian military institutions [have been] controlling the country,” said Labbad,
 
There are hints, however, that some dynamics may shift.  The group has already decided to abolish the upper house of parliament; additionally, it appears to favor a greater division of responsibilities between the president and the prime minister.
 
For a country that has undergone profound changes in recent years, some feel an imperfect document, even if again drafted quickly by a small and not fully representative group, may be enough for now.
 
“We hope that this constitution becomes interim, [that] it is not going to be permanent, [that] it is going to stay some time until things improve, until there is lower illiteracy rate, lower poverty rate,” explained Sadek.
 
The final draft is expected to be put to a public referendum next month, clearing the way for parliamentary and presidential elections next year.

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mukabarat from: Saudi Arabia
November 15, 2013 6:08 PM
hey Egyptians, you can buy a whole stack of "constitutions" from Russia or North Korea... they are made in China, you know... Libya bought six hundred... the Zimbaboans wrap fish in them... they are really good... as fish wrappers that is...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs