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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs