Egypt president ‘to approve’ constitution

The draft charter strips out Islamic language written into the constitution last year by an Islamist-dominated assembly

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Egyptian interim President Adly Mansour is expected to promptly approve the country’s draft constitution, government sources told Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram on Tuesday.

Mansour is also expected to soon call for a referendum on the final draft of the charter, which was finalized on Sunday evening and presented on Tuesday to the prime minister by chairman of the constitution drafting committee Amr Moussa.

“The government needs a few weeks to prepare for the referendum, so we are talking about the first or second week of January, but not much earlier,” a government source told the state newspaper.

Meanwhile, a source at the Ministry of Information told al-Ahram that Egypt would witness a nationwide media campaign over the next few weeks to encourage a “yes” vote.

“We are planning to host several members of the drafting committee and several activists during many programs on all the channels of Egyptian TV to explain why this constitution could help achieve progress for all Egyptians,” she said.

The draft strips out Islamic language written into the constitution last year by an Islamist-dominated assembly.

By contrast, the 50-member assembly chaired by Moussa has only two Islamists, one of them a member of the hardline Nour Party.

The panel on Saturday began their vote on the new charter seen by some as strengthening the army’s position in the country’s future political life.

The panel approved the charter’s preamble and the a number of introductory Articles, including Article 2 which states that the principles of Islamic Shariah are the main source of legislation.

The draft version of the constitution published by al-Ahram newspaper on Thursday says the choice of defense minister must be approved by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces for a period of eight years from the time the constitution is passed.

It also allows military trials for civilians accused of “direct attacks” on the armed forces.

Dissenters fear this provision could be interpreted expansively to target protesters, journalists and dissidents.

Article 203 says that “no civilian can be tried by military judges, except for crimes of direct attacks on armed forces, military installations and military personnel.”

It also ensures that the military’s budget remains beyond civilian scrutiny.

(With AFP)

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