Constitution is Egypt’s ‘biggest challenge’

Egypt’s interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi said the country’s upcoming constitutional referendum would prove a tough challenge

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Egypt’s upcoming constitutional referendum is the country’s “biggest challenge” since July 30 overthrow of Islamist President Mohammad Mursi, Egypt’s interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi said on Saturday.

In an interview aired on Egypt’ Dream television channel, Beblawi confirmed the interim government’s ability to secure a credible and transparent referendum, and its readiness to face any planned obstacles from the Muslim Brotherhood or other parties.

His remarks came after the interim presidency announced the referendum on the draft charter would take place on January 14 and 15. The new constitution is set to be the first step in the transitional plan that should conclude with presidential elections next year.

But Egypt’s al-Ahram newspaper chief editor, Gamal Zayda, warned on Saturday that the Brotherhood may seize any opportunity to impede the interim period and the planned roadmap, during the referendum, the parliamentary and presidential elections.

A 50-Member Committee, headed by Amr Moussa, was tasked with amending Egypt’s constitution which was drafted by Mursi’s government.

Following the referendum announcement Saturday, interim President Adly Mansour praised the revised draft for its provisions on the "securing of human rights, freedoms and the balancing of powers."

“It is a good start on which to build the institutions of a democratic and modern state,” he said.

Critics of the draft constitution contend that is has given the military special status by allowing it to bring civilians before military tribunals.

The draft also removes Islamist-inspired provisions written into the Egyptian constitution approved in a referendum last year while President Mohammad Mursi was still in office.

The Islamist Anti-Coup Alliance organizes regular protests demanding Mursi’s reinstatement that often set off clashes with security forces and opponents of the deposed president.

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