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Egypt's Constituent Assembly's government system committee wraps up work

Systems of government committee at Constituent Assembly agrees on several proposed constitutional articles pertaining to rights, privileges of Egypt's embattled executive branch

Ahram Online, Monday 30 Jul 2012
A general view of the two chambers of parliament meeting to elect the 100 members of the constituent assembly in Cairo (Photo: Reuters)

The Constituent Assembly's systems of government committee wrapped up its work Monday after reaching agreement on the proposed constitutional articles it soon plans to present to the wider assembly.

According to Salah Abdel-Maaboud, the Salafist Nour Party's representative on the committee, committee members have agreed that the president should remain the commander-in-chief of Egypt's armed forces and should have the right – with the consent of the People's Assembly (the lower house of Egypt's parliament) – to declare war.

The committee has also proposed an article forbidding the president from dissolving Egypt's Shura Council (the upper, consultative house of parliament) in the event that the lower house is dissolved, with the aim of preventing a legislative vacuum.

The committee, according to Abdel-Maaboud, has also drafted an article stating that, in the event that the presidency is neutralised (due to the president's resignation or disablement), the vice president should take charge of the nation's affairs temporarily, until the election of a new president within 90 days. Under Egypt's 1971 constitution, this period was set at 60 days.

In case the vice president fails to assume this responsibility, the article states, it would be delegated to the speaker of the People's Assembly, then to the speaker of the Shura Council. The article also stipulates that the person filling in for the president would not have the right to amend the constitution, run for the presidency or dissolve parliament.

The committee has also reportedly drafted an article stating that the president holds the sole right to dissolve parliament's lower house, but that he must do so via popular referendum. In the event that the public rejects the proposed dissolution of parliament, the president must himself then resign to avoid conflicts between the two state powers.

The committee has further drafted an article giving the president the right to appoint the ministers of defence and foreign affairs.

Meanwhile, the Constituent Assembly itself still remains at risk of dissolution, pending a court ruling slated for September. If it is found unconstitutional and dissolved, Egypt's military council has granted itself the right to draw up a new constitution-drafting body, according to a controversial "constitutional addendum" issued in June.

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