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December 21, 2012

2013: A new constitution for a new Egypt, not likely

Dr. Mohamed Elmasry

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I am one among millions of Egyptians who are deeply concerned about the country's new constitution as it does not represent the vast majority of us; farmers, journalists, judges, lawyers, the Church, women groups, and opposition parties because representatives of these groups did withdraw from the drafting committee in protest of the marginalization of their views by the committee.

This will not lead to political stability which is necessary for achieving economical development and hence social justice; both the Egyptian people fully deserve. And both were two of the three objectives of the country almost two-year historical peaceful revolution; ‘eish, horia, ‘adala igtma’ia, achieving for a new Egypt freedom, democratic and economical development and social justice.

Each group whose representatives withdraw from the drafting committee constitutes a sizable and important group of the country citizens. All these groups, some 90% of the population, feel left out by a small minority of extreme unaccommodating religious parties led by the Muslim Brotherhood; whereas only their values are reflected in the new constitution.

If this is not bad enough, the MB pushed in a harry the draft constitution through the committee for approval and its president gave the country of 88 million only two weeks to read, study and debate it and then vote on it in a referendum, the first of its two stage dates show clear irregularities.

To make sure their new constitution is approved, the MB made the rule that the new constitution would be approved even if there is a low turnout of the 25 million registered voters and even if only 50%+1 of them approve it. 

And the referendum itself was held under the rule of a president who has given himself absolute power.

Preliminary results of the first round of last Saturday voting showed that the constitution was approved by a narrow margin in the 10 governorates, with opponents outnumbering supporters in Cairo and Gharbiya, and the opposite in Alexandria and Upper Egyptian governorates.

In Egypt the only people who have considered the constitution itself, its drafting and its approval is a MB’s victory are the MB themselves and other religious parties. Internationally the only country that expressed its happiness is Qatar and its Amir, who many Egyptians accuse of funding the MB.

The main opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front, said there were several irregularities during last Saturday vote and one of its leader George Ishaq urged citizens who were unable to cast their ballots to file lawsuits against the High Judicial Elections Commission for refusing to extend voting times.

Human rights and civil society organizations demanded a repeat of the first round vote due to fraud and violations, such as the lack of full judicial supervision. They also reported other forms of irregularities including permitting members of the MB’s Freedom and Justice Party to congregate inside polling stations, allowing religious propaganda in mosques and preventing Christians from voting.

The final results of the referendum is expected be announced at the end of the second round, which is set to take place this coming Saturday Dec 22, in Egypt’s remaining 17 governorates.

The result is this: by the New Year a new Egypt that deserves a new constitution that reflects its revolution will be an illusion. So kiss goodbye to achieving economical development and social justice. Sad but true.

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