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

Bleak China Economic Outlook Rattles Markets

Several key European stock indexes were down up to three percent, while US market indexes were off around 2.5 percent in afternoon trading 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.
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.
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