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Newly-minted 'Strong Egypt' party rejects draft constitution

Centrist 'Strong Egypt' party - the latest addition to country's post-revolution political landscape - cites ten reasons for its rejection of draft national charter

Zeinab El Gundy , Sunday 21 Oct 2012
Newly-minted
Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh (Photo: Reuters)
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The recently established 'Strong Egypt' party on Sunday issued a statement declaring its rejection of the first draft of Egypt's new constitution, released to the public by the Constituent Assembly earlier this month.

In its first major declaration, the nascent centrist party – led by former Muslim Brotherhood leader and former presidential candidate Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh – cited ten reasons for its rejection of the draft charter.

"There's no clear reference as to how the state will guarantee citizens' economic and social rights," the party declared. "Nor is there a clear reference to the state's responsibility to provide care for street children and disabled citizens."

The statement also noted the lack of any constitutional article explicitly banning discrimination, despite what the party described as "routine discrimination" against minorities in terms of certain government posts.

"The draft calls for a presidential system, contrary to what all political powers and groups have agreed upon," the party asserted. "Such a system of governance grants the president wide powers, including the right to form the cabinet, disband parliament without a public referendum, and appoint the heads of regulatory authorities and agencies."

The statement goes on to assert that the creation of a National Security Council effectively removes the military – and the military budget, traditionally shrouded in secrecy – from the purview of Egypt's elected executive and legislative authorities.

The Strong Egypt party also criticised the fact that the draft constitution maintains the Shura Council (the upper, consultative house of Egypt's parliament), despite the opinion of several political groups that the council is largely irrelevant. The party also expressed disapproval over the abrogation of Egypt's Supreme Judicial Council in the draft charter.

A strong advocate of state decentralisation, the party also slammed the draft constitution for perceived contradictions, noting that some articles called for the election of local councils in all governorates, while others appear to give the government the right to disband local councils.

The Strong Egypt party went on to call on the Constituent Assembly to amend the draft constitution and heed the advice of other political powers to achieve a constitution that fulfils the people's demands for social justice and dignity, and to avoid a "constitutional void" in the event that the public rejects the draft charter in an upcoming popular referendum.

The party also asserted that the draft constitution's section devoted to freedoms failed to criminalise the practice of torture. It also criticised how the draft constitution granted Egypt's Al-Azhar what the party described as "religious control" over issues related to Islamic Law.

A number of liberal and leftist activists welcomed the party's statement online, considering it a positive step in the opposition's rejection of the draft constitution, which was drawn up by Egypt's Islamist-led Constituent Assembly.

The party is planning to hold a press conference on Monday to discuss in greater detail the reasons for its rejection of the draft charter. 

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