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

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

US Urges Taliban to Stay With Afghan Peace Talks

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll 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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs