Egypt's Socialist Popular Alliance calls draft constitution 'oppressive'

Ahram Online, Wednesday 24 Oct 2012

The Socialist Popular Alliance echoes the concern of many liberal forces towards the proposed constitution

Socialist Popular Alliance
Socialist Popular Alliance logo

The Socialist Popular Alliance Party (SPA) voiced its disapproval of Egypt's draft constitution on Wednesday, describing the proposal as the "reinstatement of oppression" by the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist parties.

They added that the current assembly has ignored several proposals the party made. 

The statement described the constitution as empowering Salafists to introduce an oppressive vision on societal and personal matters, and for the Brotherhood to impose political oppression.

"There are however advantages that we cannot deny; that includes the rights granted that were not mentioned in the 1971 constitution," said the SPA statement. Such advantages included a number of rights introduced in the draft of the post-revolution constitution, including proper housing and access to water and shelter.

The party also welcomed the assembly's positive response to several of their requests in regards to eliminating vague articles and the re-adding of some articles, such as banning slavery.

"However we object the removal of the article against human trafficking for it has many forms within our society, including marriage to minors that is unfortunately backed by some members of the assembly," the party statement added.

The party also objected to making top clerics of Al-Azhar as arbiters on constitutional matters, as some Salafists demand.

The SPA warns from neglecting their objection to more critical articles, such as the one related to women's rights; Article 36 dictates gender equality as interpreted by the Islamic law, which raises fear of a radical interpretation by Islamist currents.

Furthermore, SPA's statement said there are no real guarantees introduced in the constitution on the independence of the judiciary branch from the executive authority. It claimed the draft excludes parliamentary elections in the future from being monitored by the High Constitutional Court. The party added the assembly gives itself the right to interfere in the not yet drafted elections law, which is still to be passed by the next elected parliament. 

Finally, it highlighted the "dangerous privileges" being given to the military institute in the constitution, describing it as the biggest flaw within the constitution.

The current Constituent Assembly faces criticism from liberal and leftist observers as its dissolved predecessor, namely that it is dominated by Islamist parties and is not representative of the country's social and political diversity.

A number of political forces have expressed their discontent with the constitution's draft, including 6 April Youth Movement, Strong Egypt Party, The Constitution Party and Egyptian Popular Current.

Several lawsuits had been filed challenging the legality of the Constituent Assembly after the HCC in June rendered the People's Assembly, the body that chose members of the constitution writing committee, unconstitutional. 

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