Egypt's workers, farmers blast draft constitution

Ahram Online, Wednesday 31 Oct 2012

Commercial Workers' Syndicate release joint-statement, Wednesday, condemning draft charter for omitting their 50 per cent seat quota in parliament

Egypt's Farmers and labourers disapprove their representation in the draft constitution (Photo: Mai Saheen)

Representatives of Egypt's workers and farmers slammed Egypt's new draft constitution, in a press statement Wednesday, calling it "a violation of rights" as it failed to include their 50 per cent quota of seats in Egypt's upper and lower houses of parliament.

Previous national charters, including the now-defunct 1971 Constitution, specified that half the seats in parliament should be reserved for workers and farmers, a provision instituted by former president Gamal Abdel Nasser in the 1960s.

The joint-statement was issued by the Commercial Workers' Syndicate after a Tuesday meeting conducted on their downtown Cairo premises in the presence of the authorities of Egypt's Trade Union Federation.

The communiqué described the draft constitution as unjust "and an infringement on the rights of 77 per cent of Egyptians."

"This is an intentional violation of the national rights of labourers and farmers who represent the middle and working class in society," the document asserted.

Without the labourers and agricultural workers, the statement continued, parliament will not represent "the real will of the individual and society or guarantee the success of economic and social development plans."

The statement confirmed that participants of the meeting decided to continue internal discussions and to prepare reports on the draft constitution. They will also request urgent meetings with the consultant to the head of the Constituent Assembly and party representatives, to ensure their 50 per cent representation in the previously elected upper and lower houses of parliament remains and the quota is re-instated in the future.

A number of political groups and civil society organisations have also voiced their disapproval of the latest draft of the constitution, including Egypt's Socialist Popular Alliance, the National Council for Women, 6 April Youth Movement, Strong Egypt Party, The Constitution Party and Egyptian Popular Current.

Assembly members are expected to vote on the draft charter by mid-November, assembly head Hossam El-Gheriany declared two weeks ago. A constitutional referendum is then slated to take place one month later, in accordance with last year's Constitutional Declaration.

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