Salafist politician wants referendum on police, military right to vote

Ahram Online, Tuesday 28 May 2013

Watan Party chairman Yosri Hammad wants referendum to confirm court ruling that Egyptian police and military can vote


Yosri Hammad, chairman of the Salafist Watan Party, has said that a court decision granting members of the army and the police the right to vote should be put to referendum by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

Following the decision of the High Constitutional Court (HCC) on Sunday, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Hatem Bagato said that the Shura Council would not challenge the court’s decision.

“The involving of the military institute in politics after their withdrawal is a dangerous issue,” said Hammad, adding that the court’s decision was a “surprise” given that officers have been barred from voting since 1976.

Egypt's Islamist parties view the High Constitutional Court with extreme suspicion.

Last December, the court was besieged by Islamist protesters who prevented the court from issuing a ruling on the constitutionality of Egypt's outgoing Islamist-dominated Constituent Assembly, tasked with drawing up a new constitution.

In the summer of last year, the court was severely criticised by Islamist groups after it called for the dissolution of Egypt's first post-revolution lower house of parliament, in which Islamist parties had won roughly three quarters of the seats.

The court's recommendation was quickly carried out by Egypt's then-ruling supreme military council.

While Bagato sees the HCC's latest assertion as binding – and in line with citizens' constitutional right to vote – he also voiced the opinion that the military establishment and police apparatus should both be kept at a distance from domestic politics.

According to Egypt's new constitution, all laws drafted by parliament must be subject to review by the High Constitutional Court. If the court finds the proposed legislation unconstitutional, it must be amended.

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