Egypt's opposition protest on Friday to reject constitutional declaration, draft constitution

Ahram Online , Thursday 29 Nov 2012

After massive protests on Tuesday, leftist, liberal, and independent groups call for Friday protests to reject recent constitutional declaration and soon to be completed constitution

Tahrir Square
Egyptian protesters attend an opposition rally in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012. (Photo: AP)

Leftist, liberal, and independent political forces met Thursday at the headquarters of Egypt's Socialist Popular Alliance Party (SPAP) to comment on the current political crisis and planned weekend protests.

The protests were called for in a number of governorates to demand Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi to withdraw a controversial constitutional declaration he announced last week.

The declaration gives him sweeping powers and shields the Constituent Assembly – tasked with drafting the new constitution – and Shura Council (Egypt's upper house of parliament) from being dissolved.

Both bodies are accused of being unrepresentative of Egyptians at large and dominated by Islamist groups.

Attendees of the meeting included members of the SPAP, the Constitution Party, the Popular Current movement, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Free Egyptians Party, the Free Egypt Party, the 6 April Youth Movement, National Front for Justice and Democracy, Lotus Revolution Coalition and Maspero Youth Coalition, among others.

In a joint press statement released after the meeting, attendees called on Egyptians nationwide to take to the streets on Friday in planned demonstrations to demand that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi reverse last week's "authoritarian" presidential decree.

Morsi's decisions are protected from judicial oversight by his constitutional declaration.

"The only way to break the current impasse is to listen to the pulse of the street, as opposed to following a group that has attempted to steal the revolution," the statement read.

They further called on protesters to avoid clashing with pro-Morsi rallies by the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist parties on Saturday, which were originally planned to be held in the same location as a sit-in by groups opposing the declaration, Cairo's Tahrir Square.

The statement went on to accuse Morsi of adopting the methods of ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

"This is certainly proof of the quivering regime, which cannot withstand such public outrage and uses force," the statement read.

"Morsi has exceeded Mubarak by attempting to drive the country into civil war, of which only he will be held responsible for," the statement warned.

Groups planning the Saturday protests, including the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist Nour Party, changed the venue to Cairo University in Giza.

The joint-statement also commented on the constitutional draft currently being voted on by Egypt's Constituent Assembly, the groups claimed the draft charter was declared "void." Thus, could not be put before public referendum.

"This is a constitution drafted by an illegitimate assembly that represents only one political current and is not representative of Egyptian society at large," the statement read.

The head of the Constituent Assembly, Judge Hossam El-Gheriani, announced Wednesday that the final vote on the draft constitution will be held on Thursday, despite numerous withdrawals by mostly non-Islamist political forces from the assembly.

The announcement comes despite an extra two-month period, until February, given to the assembly, by Morsi's declaration, to complete the draft.

Egyptians opposing the decision accuse the assembly members of rushing the process and entrapping Egyptians to pass the constitution in order to remove Morsi's "dictatorial" declaration, which becomes void once the new constitution is in place.

"The Muslim Brotherhood's move [from which Morsi hails] to force people to choose between an already rejected constitution or accept the constitutional declaration will prolong the current political crisis," prominent 6 April member, Mohamed Adel, told Ahram's Arabic news portal.

Many see the speeding up of the drafting process will stoke divisions already exacerbated by Morsi's move.

“The decision to rush out the vote will only serve to pour oil on the fire and direct more anger at Morsi and his group [the Brotherhood],” Mohamed Abdel-Alim Dawoud of liberal Wafd party member and former member of the assembly told Ahram Online.

The joint-statement reiterated the groups' rejection of what is said was the same practice seen in last year's March referendum on the constitution, which "largely resulted in the division of Egyptian society."   

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