Egypt constitution to 'be ready by Eid'
In a plenary session held on Monday, Amr Moussa, chairman of the 50-member committee mandated with writing the final draft of Egypt's new constitution, said "the first stage of writing Egypt's new national charter will be completed before the holiday of Eid Al-Adha (the Bairam feast) - or before 14 October."
Moussa explained, "at the end of this stage, we will have the first draft of the new constitution, to be followed by the 50-member committee reviewing and holding public debate sessions on it."
Once these stages are complete, Moussa added, we will have a final draft, which will be subject to a vote by members and then put to a national referendum.
Moussa commented, "the previous two weeks of business have included serious progress towards drafting a new constitution for Egypt... This indicates that we will be able to finish our task in the allotted 60-day timeframe, after which the constitution will be put to a referendum within two weeks," said Moussa.
Abdel-Gelil Mostafa, Cairo university professor and chairman of the sub-committee entrusted with reviewing the language of initial drafts of the constitution's articles, said: "We received 91 articles – out of a total 198 – drafted by three sub-committees... We have finished re-writing half of the 91 articles, and by the end of next week we should have finished re-writing the rest of them."
Sameh Ashour, chairman of the National Dialogue sub-committee, said: "As many as 28 hearing sessions have been held and 1,356 public figures have delivered proposed amendments on the existing constitution."
"There is a sweeping majority in favour of issuing a new constitution for Egypt rather than polishing the image of the 2012 constitution, which was drafted by the deposed regime of the Muslim Brotherhood," he added.
Ashour suggested interim-president Adli Mansour will be contacted to urge him to amend the 8 July constitutional declaration to clearly show that "Egyptians will vote on a new constitution rather than an amended version of the 2012 constitution."
Ashour asserted that representatives of all sectors of society insist the constitution should stress that "Egypt is a civilian democratic state."
According to Ashour, citizens also stressed that several articles should be changed to reflect the obligations of the state towards society, especially in terms of instituting a new health insurance system that covers all citizens, and ensures the protection of intellectual property and Egyptian artistic products.
In contrast, the representative of the ultra-conservative Salafist Nour party, Mohamed Ibrahim Mansour, said "the 30-June political roadmap stressed that the 50-member committee is entrusted with amending the 2012 constitution rather than writing a new one."
Mansour also rejected using "Western" terminology in writing the new constitution. According to him, phrases such as "civil state" are Western-inspired and will be rejected by the Egyptian people.
Mansour argued that the Nour Party rejects the implementation of a religious state, but is "in favour of a state which promotes religious values in society."
In response, Moussa said, "most of what we call Western expressions derive from Arabic origins and there must not be narrow-mindedness over this."
Mohamed Abdel-Salam, chairman of the Foundational Principles of the State sub-committee, said: "While six articles have been re-drafted, we are in the process of reading another 36 controversial articles... The controversy over them is not serious and I think we will be able to reach consensus by next week."
Hoda Al-Sadda, chair of the Rights and Liberties sub-committee, said: "Most of the articles regulating the performance of political parties, NGOs and professional syndicates have already been drafted... We proposed setting up a commission to fight discrimination and ensure equal opportunities for all citizens."
Amr Al-Shobaki, chairman of the System of Governance sub-committee, explained that half of the articles under this committee have garnered consensus, especially those regulating the performance of the activities of the president, the police, and wider systems of governance.
Al-Shobaki further explained that the articles regulating the performance of the armed forces, judicial authorities, military trials and the municipal system will be reviewed next week.