News / Middle East

Egypt's Proposed Constitution Stirs National Debate

Egypt's Proposed Constitution Stirs National Debatei
X
December 03, 2013 7:20 PM
As Egypt works out a new draft constitution, a period of public debate ahead of a national referendum has begun. VOA's Elizabeth Arrott reports from Cairo that political analysts are split on whether it is an imperfect document good enough for now, or if it misses an important opportunity.

Egypt's Proposed Constitution Stirs National Debate

Elizabeth Arrott
— As Egypt works out a new draft constitution, a period of public debate ahead of a national referendum has begun.  Political analysts are split on whether it is an imperfect document good enough for now, or it misses an important opportunity. 

With more than 200 articles, Egypt's new draft constitution details everything from the protected role of the military to the rights of fishermen.

Its authors, handpicked by the military-backed government, are hailing it as a success, and say they expect it to pass in a referendum in the coming weeks.

If so, it would become the nation's fourth basic charter in the past three years. Political analyst Saad Eddin Ibrahim of the Ibn Khaldun Center said, while not perfect, it was the best in Egypt's history - so far.

“In terms of reducing the powers of the president and of the executive generally, in terms of holding many public officials accountable to popular questioning and accountability, these are all very positive features of the new constitution,” he said.

Others argue the new version doesn't reflect the profound changes in Egypt since the 2011 revolution, including the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi earlier this year.

The new draft is stripped of some references to Islam - a move strongly opposed by Morsi supporters who have denounced the draft.
 
It also grants greater civil rights. But political activist and influential blogger Wael Khalil said any charter was only as strong as the commitment of those charged  to enforce it.

“It maintains the structures of power and privileges of certain sections. It doesn't really empower the citizen in a way that to have a stronger relation with the institutions, with authorities, with power,” he said.

Khalil points to an article that allows for the freedom of assembly, qualified by the phrase “in accordance to the law.” 

One law, recently enforced, was so restrictive as to make the constitutional guarantee, he argued, meaningless.  And that, he added, could affect people's reaction to the constitution and the government as a whole.

“The kind of backlash will really depend on how they are acting.  I think the assembly law was a stupid, stupid move.  It's not going to serve them at all,” said Khalil.

But Ibrahim argued that recent protests against that law illustrated the changes that had altered the dynamic between Egypt's rulers and ruled.  

“The people of Egypt will be the safeguards, the great safeguards to the new constitution, which is now being intensely debated, has been for some time, and they will have the opportunity to say yes or no,” he said.

The interim government expects enough people will come out to approve the new charter - which some hope would give it more legitimacy than the last one.  Low voter turnout meant the 2012 constitution passed with less than 20 percent of eligible votes.

Khalil was not so sure, and argued many people were disenchanted.  He added, jokingly, they would wait to vote on the next constitution next year.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid