An Egyptian panel has begun voting on a draft constitution, a move considered the first step toward democratic rule following the July ouster of President Mohamed Morsi.

Voting began Saturday on the 247 articles in the new document, which would replace the constitution enacted by Mr. Morsi last year.

The French news agency reports the committee approved more than half of the articles on Saturday. The 50-member panel resumes voting Sunday.

The committee plans to present the draft constitution to interim President Adly Mansour by mid-week. The measure is expected to be put to a popular vote early next year.

The head of the panel, politician Amr Moussa, told journalists there was tentative agreement on all 247 articles, which include a provision stipulating sharia as the main source of legislation.

Another article says the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces must agree on the government's designee for defense minister.

Panel member Magdi Yaqoub says the draft constitution is one of the best in the world.

"It is designed to look after every member of the community, particularly the poor, the weak, as well as the neglected people, and gives rights to every person in the country."

Committee member Mohamed Aboulgar said the measure has a number of benefits.

"The articles in this constitution are great, they are very progressive, they will support social justice and freedom."

The new constitution is part of the interim government's planned political transition to parliamentary and presidential elections next year.