President Mohamed Morsi, speaking before representatives of Egyptians NGOs on Wednesday, announced that he has officially submitted a modified version of a contentious NGO bill to the Shura Council for review.
"The NGO law is the first to be submitted by the presidency after the [new] constitution, with the aim of empowering civil society organisations and ensuring that the state will not restrict their activity, as long as they are working for the good of the country," Morsi announced during a convention on civil society activities in Cairo, attended by representatives from around 250 local nongovernmental organisations.
A presidential spokesman had announced earlier this week that the draft adopted by the presidency is “substantially” different from the contentious original draft which was strongly criticised by many Egyptian NGOs.
According to a previous draft prepared by the Islamist-led Shura Council and released in May, civil society groups would not be allowed to operate until they obtained a “certificate of registration” from Egypt's social solidarity ministry. This stipulation sparked fears of possible limitations on the establishment of NGOs in Egypt.
Among the amendments to the law, the final draft of which will be publicised after being referred to the Shura Council, is one stating that non-governmental organisations can be legally accredited via notification.
The original draft mandated a lengthy accreditation process which critics described as restrictive.
"For the future, I am calling for the formation of a committee to facilitate communication between the government and civil society," the president added.