|Egyptian constitutional amendments, Yes or No|
|Written by Egypt News|
|Thursday, 10 March 2011|
The head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Armed Forces issued a decree announcing that a national referendum on “temporary” constitutional amendments will be held on 19 March
The constitutional amendments aim to change issues related with wider criteria for president, term limitation, rights to declare state of emergency, VP appointment
Egyptians will asked during the referendum if they agree to amendments in articles 75, 76, 77, 88, 93, 139 and 149 and the cancellation of Article 179.
Also, the citizens will also be asked their opinion about the addition of a new paragraph to Article 189.
The decree will be executed by the Supreme Judicial Committee and all executive bodies.
But the main point is that the Debate which faces those amendments.
The committee, headed by Tarek El-Bishry, former first deputy of the Council of State, was appointed by Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the armed forces, to amend the constitution before presidential elections.
A meeting was held yesterday between members of the committee, Tantawi and his deputy, Sami Annan.
The second camp insists on the drafting of a new Constitution, a prolonging of the interim period, and a decision to not hold elections before the political sphere is ripe enough to push fresh political players to the fore.
The limited constitutional amendments recently drafted and set to be put to referendum 19 March are gaining little popular support
"Personally, I am going to vote against these amendments; it is not that I don’t like them all, but there are things there that I don’t like, and given that it is a yes or no referendum, I will vote no," said Wael, a civil servant in his early 40s.
Wael argued the case against a package of limited constitutional amendments drafted 10 days ago by a committee of legal and constitutional experts, largely Islamists, to set the rules for the next presidential elections — the first ever free multi-candidate elections in the history of Egypt.
Professor of philosophy of law with Zagazig University, Mohamed Nour Farahat, argues that, although the amendments may not be ideal, casting a no-vote might complicate the situation.
“Although I have reservations over the amendments, I believe that voting in disfavor of them will send us into a vicious cycle,” Farahat said. “I am afraid that a ‘no-vote’ will be interpreted as if people approve of the 1971 constitution as is."
“If compared to the old constitutional order, the proposed amendments mark a step forward,” said Farahat. “But, I am not calling upon people to accept or refuse these amendments. I am just asking for the postponement of the referendum for few days until we have a genuine national dialogue over the matter.”
On his part, professor of constitutional law at Cairo University and one of the architects of the proposed amendments Atef al-Banna said that “Parties need many years to strengthen themselves
Al Banna added that “Is it possible to put political life on hold for years?”
Also, he goes further to dismiss claims that Islamists or NDP members will emerge as the only beneficiaries of early parliamentary elections.
Al Banna said “The NDP will not get more than 20 seats”
He added that “The NDP needs years to reshape itself. The nation that made this revolution should not be scared of the remains of the NDP. As to the Muslim Brotherhood, they remain a minority. They can only get between 20 and 25 percent of the seats. Even if they get 30 percent, they will not constitute the majority”
Zewail is among the figures expected to run for the Egyptian presidency in 2011, however a new constitutional amendment states specifically that a candidate should be Egyptian, from Egyptian parents, without double nationality and married to an Egyptian woman.
MORE Results About Egypt's Constitutional Amendments