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Egypt's new constitution to be followed by tackling key political laws

With Egypt's newly amended constitution gaining near unanimous popular approval, attention shifts to political laws as legislative and presidential elections approach

Gamal Essam El-Din, Sunday 19 Jan 2014
the new constitution
An Egyptian vender sells copies of the new constitution in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013. (Photo: AP)
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Last week's popular approval of Egypt's amended constitution, which marks the successful completion of the first phase of the post-3 July political roadmap, will pave the way for a number of ministerial and legislative changes in the coming days.

As expected, Egypt's newly-drafted 247-article constitution was overwhelmingly approved by a majority of registered Egyptian voters. The turnout for last week's vote was also one of the highest in Egypt's modern history, registering 38.6 percent, or more than 20 million.

Political analysts expect that the liberal government of Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi, officially formed 17 July 2013, might be partially or completely reshuffled.

Stability and economy

Amr Elchoubaki, an Al-Ahram political analyst who was a high-profile member of the committee that drafted the new constitution, does not believe that the Beblawi government has to be completely reshuffled. "I think this government might be just forced to change some of its cabinet ministers, especially if deputy premier and Minister of Defence Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi decided to step down and run in the presidential elections," said Elchoubaki.

Elchoubaki believes that the economic performance of the Beblawi government has been excellent, doing a solid job in restoring a great deal of economic and political stability over the last eight months since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. "But the fact remains that some cabinet ministers, especially those in charge of service portfolios, were not highly efficient and should be replaced with others," said Elchoubaki.

Some analysts have said that the ministers of irrigation, electricity, agriculture, health and internal trade should be replaced.

A report by the Oxford Business Group on 15 January said that the Beblawi government was able by the end of 2013 to stabilise the economy and use fund packages provided by Egypt's Gulf allies to substantially bolster confidence and brighten the economic outlook. The report recommended that the present government stay until a new parliament is formed, to complete its task of putting the economy on a sound footing. 

Hani Sarieddin, a leading economist and member of the liberal Free Egyptians Party, however, argues that "The government of Beblawi must be reshuffled completely." "I think that there is a priority that a neutral government be installed to take charge of staging presidential and parliamentary polls in a democratic climate in the next six months," said Sarieddin.

Political laws to be amended

If a cabinet reshuffle is still cast in doubt, it is sure that a number of laws will be amended in the coming period to pave the way for presidential and parliamentary elections. Topping the list, said Gamal Zaharan, a professor of political science at Suez Canal University, are amendments of four key political laws regulating presidential and parliamentary elections, and the performance of political parties.

"if Interim President Adly Mansour decides that presidential polls are to be held first, a law regulating these polls must be amended soon to go in line with the newly-drafted constitution," said Zaharan.

Ali Awad, a constitutional advisor to President Mansour, said the presidential elections law (Law No 174 of 2005) will be amended soon to pave the way for presidential polls. Awad explained that "This law must be modified to reflect the new constitution's articles regulating the presidential ballot and the make-up of the commission in charge of staging it."

Article 141 of the newly endorsed 2014 Constitution stipulates that presidential candidates must be born to Egyptian parents, and that a candidate, along with his parents and spouse, should never have held dual nationality, should have performed military duty (or have been exempted therefrom by law), and should not be below 40 years of age on registration day.

Article 142 states that in order for a presidential hopeful to be eligible to run, he or she must get the endorsement of 20 elected parliamentary deputies or the signatures of not less than 25,000 citizens (rather than 20,000 in the current law) from at least 15 governorates, with a minimum 1,000 from each.

Besides, a five-member Presidential Elections Commission (PEC) will be formed to take charge of overseeing and monitoring presidential polls. The PEC is to be headed by Anwar Al-Assi, now acting chairman of the High Constitutional Court (HCC) and include Abdel-Wahab Abdel-Razek, the HCC's first deputy chairman, Ezzat Omran, deputy chairman of the Court of Cassation, Nabil Salib, chairman of Cairo's Appeals Court, and Essam Abdel-Aziz, first deputy chairman of the State Council (administrative courts).

PEC's secretary-general was named as Hamdan Fahmi, a judge at the HCC.

Zahran explained that in order for parliamentary elections to be held, there must be amendments to three laws: the law on the exercise of political rights (Law No 73 of 1956); the law regulating the performance of the People's Assembly — now named the House of Representatives — (Law No 38 of 1972); and the electoral districts law (Law No 206 of 1990).

National dialogue

The 50-Member Committee that drafted the new constitution granted President Mansour a mandate to reach consensus via a national dialogue over a new electoral system to go into effect before parliamentary polls are held.

The results of a national dialogue showed that as much as 93 percent of participants favoured implementing the individual candidacy system. "If so, the two laws on the exercise of political rights and the People's Assembly will be amended to state that the individual candidacy system must be implemented, with the 1990 law also modified to redraw electoral districts," said Zahran.

Several political activists, however, believe that Mansour will favour a mixed individual and party-list electoral system.

Zahran also indicated that the law regulating the performance political parties (Law No 40 of 1977) must be revised to reflect the new constitution's stipulation that political parties cannot be formed on religious foundations or background.

Ahmed Al-Boraie, minister of social solidarity, has said the NGOs law will also be in the pipeline for amendment. "This law must be amended soon to reflect the stipulations introduced by the new constitution, on top of which that NGOs are strictly prohibited from forming armed militias or indulging in secret activities, and that they can be dissolved only under judicial order."

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3



sae k tokyo
20-01-2014 03:53pm
68-
3+
Egypt forward for next step
Good news the new constitution is approved ! We could see the Egyptian went for voting answering to an interview on street. I find Japan rather big firms trade and love the Egyptian cotton as British love perhaps much more beutifully. Because news is often covered from the political aspect, such fact must not be popular. I heard the land for cultivation is quite limited in Egypt but Egypt can export cotton and loved. If Egyptian can know how British or some japanese trade firms perceive the Egyptian cotton has high qualty, Egyptian also can find there is the way to see Egypt from such aspect. The point the limitation of land for cultivation but Egypt has 5he potential so forth is written by the Oxford Buisiness Group.
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Important article
20-01-2014 06:29am
3-
1+
Must read
Here is the clarification of the Karthoum meeting from the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA). Setting the record straight: the 3rd Tripartite Water Ministers’ meeting in Khartoum (MoFA) Jan 2014 - At the end of 2010, the Ethiopian Government commissioned the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam Project (GERDP). Construction is now well under way through a turn-key contract arrangement with an internationally renowned contractor. Egypt and Sudan, albeit in the absence of detailed information, have had concerns about the impact of the dam might have. So at the initiation and invitation of the Government of Ethiopia, the Ministers of Water Affairs of the three Eastern Nile Countries, Egypt,Ethiopia and the Sudan, agreed to establish an International Panel of Experts (IPoE) with the objective of building confidence about the GERDP among the three countries. It might be noted that this Ethiopian initiative to consult and share information with the two lower riparian states was unprecedented in the Nile basin or indeed in other international watercourses, in the absence of any specific agreement to determine the use of international watercourses. The IPoE was launched in mid-May 2012. After a year of deliberation that included a review of the study and design documents and project site visits, the IPoE produced its final report May 30, last year. It was a consensus report signed by the representatives of all the three countries and the four international experts. The IPoE’s Final Report reconfirmed Ethiopia’s assertion that the design and construction of the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam has been properly based on international design criteria and standards, codes, guidelines and engineering practices. The Panel’s report also showed that the GERDP will not have a significant impact on the downstream countries and that it will in fact provide major benefits to all three countries. The Panel did also recommend two further studies be carried out in the context of the Eastern Nile System. These were a water resource system/hydropower model and a trans-boundary environment and socio-economic impact study. It suggested these should be done through an agreed arrangement of the three countries, employing international consultants chosen through an international bidding process. The three states countries agreed to set up a mechanism to follow up implementation of the recommendations of the IPoE. They initiated a series of tripartite meetings. The first and second of these meetings took place in Khartoum on November 4 and on December 8/9 last year. The third meeting took place, again in Khartoum, January 4-5, this year, and it was immediately after this that the Egyptian delegation embarked on a media campaign, releasing a distorted account of the deliberations and of the outcome of the meeting. We are therefore presenting the facts here with the aim of setting the record straight and providing the international community and the Egyptian people with a true and accurate account of the proceedings of the tripartite meeting. This can be corroborated by all who were present at the meeting. The third meeting was hosted by Sudan and the main item of the agenda was discussion of the remaining pending issues that had not been agreed in the two previous meetings. It should be mentioned that during the first meeting on November 4, all three parties submitted their respective proposals on the “Framework for Establishing a Committee of Experts for the Follow up on the Implementation of the Recommendations of the (IPoE) on GERDP”. The discussions during the first and second tripartite meeting focused mainly on the framework for the establishment of a committee of national experts, its composition and mandate. The parties agreed on setting up a national committee of experts, on the composition and number of delegates from each country, and on most of the mandates for the committee as proposed by the see next........
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Sharif Shehata
19-01-2014 11:34pm
478-
55+
Dosen't matter who you are.
Everyone likes to be a President but the key questions are,Who can do better for Egypt and Egyptians? Who has dialogue and agenda for Egypt future? Who can deal with Egypt issues how,when and where ? Who can do the job Free to show how much loves Egypt not the President chair? If I could I would. Who has idea to build our society after all violence happened and left up our economy? WE needs to stand up together for Egypt before anything. We are nothing without Egypt. All we needs to be honest and to do our jobs right. God save Egypt, God bless you all.
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