News / Africa

Morsi Urges Egyptian Opposition to Engage After Constitution Enacted

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi signs a decree to put into effect the new constitution in Cairo December 25, 2012, in this handout photo released by Egyptian Presidency office.
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi signs a decree to put into effect the new constitution in Cairo December 25, 2012, in this handout photo released by Egyptian Presidency office.
Edward Yeranian
In an address on national TV Wednesday, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi congratulated Egyptians for voting to approve a new constitution and urged them to unite and work toward a better future. The address came one day after he signed the controversial new constitution into law.

Morsi says that by approving the constitution, Egypt was moving from its “First Republic,” to a new “Second Republic.” Without mentioning the outcry and protests over how the constitution was passed, Morsi thanked those who participated in what he called a free and fair referendum.

He said the Egyptian people chose to approve the constitution by free will and under conditions of transparency, complete judicial supervision, and protection by the army.

Opposition charges

Opposition leaders claim that the vote was tainted by numerous irregularities and fraud. Egypt's electoral commission, however, dismissed most of those charges Tuesday.

Developments in Egypt

  • Nov. 22: Presidential decree gives Mohamed Morsi sweeping powers, protests erupt
  • Nov. 30: Islamist-controlled assembly adopts draft constitution
  • Dec. 1: Constitution referendum scheduled for December 15
  • Dec. 2: Judges say they will boycott constitution referendum
  • Dec. 5: Protesters clash outside presidential palace in Cairo
  • Dec. 8: Morsi annuls presidential decree
  • Dec. 10: Morsi gives military authority to arrest civilians
  • Dec. 15/22: Egyptians vote on constitutional referendum
Morsi said he has no “desire to cling to power” and that legislative authority has now been transferred to the Shoura Council, the upper house of the Egyptian parliament. Morsi said he has made mistakes, but that his decisions were “made before God and in the interests of the nation.”

The president said Egypt is facing serious economic difficulties and called on his countrymen to “work hard and increase production.” He repeated a call for national dialogue.

The Shoura Council met Wednesday to consider various pieces of legislation after the new constitution gave it legislative power, pending the election of a new lower house in two months.  Among that legislation is a bill restricting financial dealings.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mohamed Mahsoub told the council that the bill should be approved quickly to prevent the flight of capital and speculation:

He said urgent legislation is needed to fight corruption and recover stolen money, along with a law to prevent speculation and stop those trying to sabotage state companies.
Economy falters

Egypt's council of ministers met Wednesday to discuss the economic crisis facing the country. The new constitution did little to resolve that crisis, say many analysts, but appeared instead to intensify it.

Said Sadek, who teaches political sociology at the American University in Cairo, said that Egypt's political opposition appears to have decided not to mount major protests over the constitution and will instead wait for the economic crisis to fuel further protests:

“The battle of the constitution is over, but other battles are coming. A lot of people from the revolution opposition believe that the government has mishandled the political situation and when those who voted for this constitution realize that what they got is more taxation and more economic hardship, you'll have a bigger pool of opposition,” said Sadek.

A $4.8-billion loan from the International Monetary Fund was delayed amid Egypt's ongoing political crisis.

Ratings agency Standard and Poor's downgraded the country's long-term credit rating on Monday. Ahram Online reported that Egypt is now preventing travelers from taking more than $10,000 out of the country.

  • An Egyptian woman casts her ballot in Giza, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012. (Yuli Weeks for VOA).
  • Voters stain their fingers with ink after voting to prevent repeat voting , Cairo, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012. (Yuli Weeks for VOA).
  • Many of the voters in Giza said they would vote no on the draft constitution, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012. (Yuli Weeks for VOA).
  • Women wait to vote in Egypt's constitutional referendum outside of a polling station in Giza, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012. (Yuli Weeks for VOA).
  • Egypt's army is overseeing the referendum vote, Cairo, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012. (Yuli Weeks for VOA).
  • The ballot Egyptian voters used in the constitutional referendum. The red circle (left) is a no vote. And the blue circle (right) is a yes vote, Cairo, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012. (Yuli Weeks for VOA).
  • Today marks the second round of voting in Egypt's constitutional referendum, Cairo, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012. (Yuli Weeks for VOA).

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Comment Sorting
by: Huzaidi Hashim from: Malaysia
December 26, 2012 9:02 PM
I agree with Adam Smith because his comments are based on his readings of both the old and the new constitutions including the comparison between the two

Unsubstantiated comments have no bearing and will serve no purpose for the readers on even for themselves

by: Dave Cox from: Birmingham
December 26, 2012 5:02 PM
The Egyptians have swapped one form of dictatorship for another ! Adam Smith needs to swap his biased view for Reality !

by: Ruffo1 from: Maryland
December 26, 2012 4:44 PM
Since your constitution is now based on the Koran all non-muslims become infidels and have to pay the muslims a jis'ia or pol tax yearly by debasing themselves in a public forum and according to their wealth as determined by this muslim jiz'ia tax collector. Jews are literally APES, Christians are literally PIGS. These infidels have absolutely NO court rights against a muslim. According to tradition a jihad can be declared against them and en-masse they can be attacked, beaten, killed, raped, robbed, their children stolen and they can do nothing about it. And folks...this crap is the truth and goes on and on. READ YOUR HISTORY!

December 26, 2012 4:39 PM
How do Egyptians look forward to a better future when their government has just taken a giant step back to the Middle Ages creating, yet, another islamic theocracy?

by: Anonymous
December 26, 2012 9:58 AM
More rational, secular elements have come out against the constitution. If this constitution, as the article mentions, also "ignores the rights of women" this is also a problem. However, it seems like the U.S. as a whole (including our government, see the Department of State referendum on the issue) are still overly optimistic regarding the transformation of Egypt. I have been saying this since the Arab Spring began: we should not be so sure that Egypt being run by an Islamist government is necessarily in our best interests, or the best interests of the Egyptian people themselves.
In Response

by: ali baba from: new york
December 26, 2012 2:26 PM
Mr. Smith. they said a little knowledge is very dangerous. this is the case to you. Egyptian understand Muslim brotherhood and they that they are moving like snake slowly and eventually they kill for their cause. the election for electing moersi is fraud. the purge of military was the initial step to grip the power. and constitution is other step to grip the power and establish Islamic state
In Response

by: Adam Smith from: MI
December 26, 2012 12:21 PM
The Egyptians have in their long history conducted their first free and fair democratically elected Presidential and Constitutional elections. The idea that they would get everything correct in the first step of the process is pure nonsense. The fact that the Egyptians chose to go with Islamic law instead of a legal system of their former colonial powers should not be a surprise. The Egyptians and people of the Middle East will have to work on a democratic system that they want and need. The US, Canada, UK, France and German do not have the same legal system or constitution why would we expect Egypt to be any different.

The only thing I see in reading the posts is the fact that some of the readers lament that Egypt is no longer a servant state to western interests. The fact that the Egyptian people have suffered under harsh dictatorships did not seem to matter to the west as long as that dictator did the wests bidding. For the comments that will come about US aid to Egypt, the US gives money to Egypt to protect US interest in the area. So keep your crocodile tears for the people of Egypt to yourself and let them work out their future for themselves.

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