Egypt army position won’t change in new constitution, says Tantawi
Hatem Maher, Sunday 27 Nov 2011
Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi uses a press conference for military correspondents to assure Egypt that parliamentary elections will go ahead as scheduled


Egypt’s de facto ruler Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), said Sunday the army’s role would not change in the new constitution.

Two controversial articles in the supra-constitutional principles document presented by the deputy prime minister early this month stirred controversy and drew the ire of many political forces and activists.

The articles exempt the army from parliamentary oversight, stipulating that it would be solely responsible for administering its own matters, including national security and budgetary issues.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Ali El-Selmi said later that a National Defence Council would be established to monitor army-related matters.

“The position of the armed forces will remain as it is. It will not change in any new constitution,” Tantawi told a press conference without elaborating further.

An elected parliament will form a constituent assembly that will be tasked with drafting the new constitution.

Anticipated People Assembly’s elections will begin Monday in several governorates, including Cairo and Alexandria, amid security concerns.

Recent reports suggested that SCAF was considering postponing the elections following heavy Tahrir clashes that left more than 40 people dead and scores injured in a flare-up of tensions between protesters and police.

However, Tantawi is adamant that SCAF and the Interior Ministry are capable of securing the long and complex process of elections.

“I call on the Egyptian people to go and vote at the polling stations without any worries. The elections will begin tomorrow as planned,” he added.

“The armed forces will cooperate with the Interior Ministry to secure the whole process.”

El-Ganzouri support

Tantawi has also defied calls to sack Kamal El-Ganzouri, the recently appointed prime minister whose arrival failed to placate the anger of Tahrir protesters, who vowed to stay put until SCAF names a national salvation government.

They nominated Mohamed ElBaradei to lead a new cabinet, a few hours after the former head of the UN nuclear watchdog met with Tantawi.

Fellow presidential hopeful Amr Moussa has also sat down with Tantawi Saturday to discuss means to end the ongoing political impasse.

“Tasking El-Ganzouri with forming a salvation government for a short span is aimed at passing the current difficult period,” Tantawi commented.

“I met ElBaradei and Moussa upon their own request to discuss the current circumstances. I don’t mind meeting anyone and hearing their views.”

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