News / Middle East

Referendum on Egypt's Constitution Slated for December

Egyptian riot police fire a water cannon to disperse people protesting against a new law restricting demonstrations, in downtown Cairo, Nov. 26, 2013.
Egyptian riot police fire a water cannon to disperse people protesting against a new law restricting demonstrations, in downtown Cairo, Nov. 26, 2013.
Reuters
Egypt will hold a referendum on an amended constitution in December, the group drafting it said on Tuesday, an important step in an army-backed roadmap meant to lead to elections.
 
Hours before the timing of the referendum was announced, protesters took to the streets in defiance of a law passed on Sunday requiring police approval for gatherings of more than 10 people. Police detained 28 people, the Interior Ministry said.
 
Egypt's democratic credentials have been called into question since the military toppled the country's first freely elected president, Islamist Mohamed Morsi, in July, following mass protests against his rule.
 
A committee of 50 members, with few Islamists, began work in September on amending the constitution that was approved in a referendum last year after being drafted by an Islamist-dominated assembly.
 
“The referendum will be held before the end of [December],” Mohamed Salmawy, spokesman of the constituent assembly, said. That contradicts comments made by Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi who said on Sunday the referendum would be held in the second half of January.
 
The new constitution will guarantee the right to protest and ensure that demonstrations can be held if protesters notify authorities, rather than wait to be granted permission, Salmawy said, in an apparent effort to ease tension over a new law restricting demonstrations.
 
Army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who ousted Morsi, has promised the roadmap will lead to free and fair elections.
 
But the plan has not stabilized Egypt, where protests and attacks by Islamist militants based in the unruly Sinai Peninsula have hammered investment and tourism.
 
Egypt has stumbled on its path to democracy since a popular uprising ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011, with the army ousting Morsi and security forces mounting one of the fiercest crackdowns on Islamists in decades.
 
Hundreds have been killed and the Brotherhood's leadership has been arrested.
 
Khaled Dawoud, a prominent liberal political figure, criticized the government.
 
“They are making more enemies than friends especially among the young revolutionary Egyptian people who have been in the streets for the past three years,” he said.
 
Underscoring diffferences over the new law, ten members of the body have suspended their work in protest against the detentions, MENA reported. Beblawi promised to follow the results of the prosecutor's investigations into the detentions, according to an emailed statement from the cabinet.
 
Human rights groups have condemned the law as a major blow to freedom in Egypt, the most populous Arab state and a U.S. ally that has experienced near relentless upheaval since autocratic ruler Hosni Mubarak was toppled by a revolt in 2011.
 
“[The] new protest law gives security forces free rein,” Amnesty International said.
 
Skirmishes broke out between security forces and protesters in downtown Cairo and police fired teargas and water cannon to disperse the demonstrations. They were marking the death of a liberal activist killed in clashes with police two years ago and expressed anger against the protest law.

"Down with military rule"
 
Hundreds assembled at the Press Syndicate and parliament. “Down, down with military rule,” they chanted.
 
In Cairo, female students at Al-Azhar University for Islamic learning, which follows the government line, stormed into a dean's office and destroyed her desk.
 
The United States, which has partially frozen aid to Egypt, on Monday expressed concern over the new law and said it agreed  with groups that argued it did not meet international standards and hampered the country's move toward democracy.
 
A security official said Tuesday's crowd had not obtained permission to protest and had ignored warnings to disperse.
 
The army-backed government has said it is not against peaceful protests but wants to restore order in the streets. It has also complained that protests often disrupt traffic. Some Egyptians cheered police as they broke up protests on Tuesday.
 
“We are implementing the new protest law that requires protesters to seek permission from the Interior Ministry three days before the protest,” a police official said.
 
The protest law will further squeeze members of the Muslim Brotherhood, who have said they will continue demonstrating against what they say is a military coup.

You May Like

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office 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.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs