Egypt presidential candidates fail to attend press conference opposing expected interim constitution

Salma Shukrallah , Monday 21 May 2012

At press conference presidential candidate Khaled Ali calls on public figures including other presidential hopefuls to stand united against SCAF-proposed interim constitution

Khaled Ali
Presidential hopeful Khaled Ali (Photo: Ayman Hafez)

Presidential hopeful Khaled Ali was the only candidate to attend the Monday press conference intended to show unified opposition on the part of a group of presidential candidates against the interim constitution expected to be issued by the ruling military council.

The call for the conference was announced after news that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) would be issuing an interim constitution to be annexed to last year's constitutional declaration granting the military sweeping powers.

According to Ali, who apologised for the failure of other candidates to attend the conference, presidential hopefuls who had been sent an invitation to declare their position on the interim constitution at his campaign headquarters in downtown Cairo included Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh, Hisham El-Bastawisi, Abul-Ezz El-Hariri and Hamdeen Sabbahi.   

Ali explained that Abul-Fotouh proposed to send a representative but when asked to attend himself he declined saying he was too exhausted. Both Sabbahi and El-Hariri were unreachable and El-Bastawisi had a meeting with the ambassador of Saudi Arabia.

Declaring his position, Ali announced that he completely opposed that the SCAF issue an interim constitution describing it as a threat to Egypt and asserting that a collective stand was required to fight it.

"The SCAF promised power would be transferred on 24 May, it should be a real transfer of power and not just a play," Ali insisted.

Recent reports revealed that the SCAF had warned parliament that, unless the constituent assembly was formed by 20 May, it would intervene by issuing an 'interim constitution' to be annexed to last year's constitutional declaration.

The proposed interim constitution will reportedly stipulate that the role of Egypt's military is to safeguard national security, maintain national unity and protect the constitution and the revolution's legitimacy.

It will reportedly grant the SCAF absolute powers to discuss and review the military's internal affairs, including its budget, armaments and military law. The budget can be discussed by parliament's defence and national security committee but only in closed-door meetings.

The parliament's lower house, the People's Assembly, will have the power to form a government but with the exception of the defence, interior, military production, foreign affairs, information, finance and justice portfolios. The charter also reportedly grants the assembly the right to withdraw confidence from the incumbent government.

While the SCAF claims the interim constitution stipulating the incoming president's authorities is necessary to fill the vacuum created by the absence of a constitution, Ali argues that presidential authorities are already clarified in the March constitutional declaration passed last year.

Articles 25, 56 and 61 of the constitutional declaration of last year, Ali further argues, dictate clearly what powers should be transferred to the newly elected president. While Articles 25 and 56 state the authorities of the SCAF, as Egypt's interim executive authority, Article 61 clearly states that these authorities should be transferred to the president immediately following the elections.

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