Friday 30 October 2020.Time-
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Egypt drafting new charter

EgyptDhaka, 02 December, Abnews : Egypt’s constitution-drafting panel yesterday voted to retain military trials for civilians in certain cases despite opposition from some secular activists and rights groups concerned over the army’s wide-ranging powers. According to a draft posted on state media, the new constitution also bans parties based on religion. Article 74 states that citizens have the right to form political parties, but are not allowed to practice any political activity or form political parties on religious bases.

If approved, the constitution would be submitted to a popular referendum early next year, billed as the first stage in a democratic transition promised by the military-installed authorities following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July.

The prickly issue of the insular military’s longstanding privileges was at the heart of voting on the constitution yesterday after the 50-member panel approved 138 of the 247 articles of the draft charter the day before.

The panel approved Article 204, which says that no civilian can be tried by military judges, except for crimes of direct attacks on armed forces, military installations and military personnel. Secular activists had demonstrated against the provision, fearing it could be applied to protesters, journalists and dissidents. Article 234 stipulates that the defence minister be appointed in agreement with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, although panel spokesman Mohammed Salmawy told media this clause will only apply during the first two presidential terms.

On Sunday the army came in for more criticism from Human Rights Watch, which accused it of forcibly disappearing five top Morsi aides since his ouster.

The constitution would also keep the military’s budget beyond civilian scrutiny. Army chief and defence minister General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi – appointed by Morsi in August 2012 – is tremendously popular and seen as the real power behind the interim government after he led Morsi’s ouster. Political analyst Hassan Nafea said secular Egyptians would be angry over the constitutional provisions concerning the army.

That will trigger debates among the secular camp at a time when the new protest law has already angered them, the professor of political science at Cairo University told media. Nafea said the referendum – which would be followed by presidential and parliamentary elections in mid-2014 – will be the real test of the charter.

I am not sure the constitution would be passed with a big majority by the Egyptian people… when (the) nation is polarised. People will not vote on the basis of whether the constitution is good or bad, but… on the basis of which camp you belong to, he said.


Abn/Mon-02/International/Desk/Nazmul Houda/Mustafiz/Fatama

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