Egypt's constitutional declaration issued, defines transitional period

Ahram Online, Monday 8 Jul 2013

Parliamentary elections and ratification of amended 2012 constitution will take place before presidential elections; President and Cabinet hold legislative authorities during transitional period

Egypt's interim president Adly Mansour (Photo: AP)

Egypt's interim president Adly Mansour has issued the anticipated constitutional declaration that will remain effective until the end of the ongoing transitional period, which will last for least six months according to the declaration.

The transitional period has started upon issuing of the constitutional declaration and ends after the presidential elections, due next year. Parliamentary elections should take place during the transitional period before the presidential polls.

The declaration, which was announced late Monday, consists of 33 articles. It will be automatically canceled when an amended version of the suspended constitution is approved in a referendum.

President's authorities

According to the temporary charter, the president holds legislative authorities along with the cabinet that shall have a mandatory consultative role.

Legislative authority will be transferred to the parliament’s lower chamber, the House of Representatives, which has yet to be elected.

The president is also entitled to approve state policy and budget, and also declare a state of emergency after the approval of Cabinet, which is yet to be formed, and in accordance to the law.

A state of emergency, according to the constitutional declaration, can only be implemented for three months and extended for a similar period upon public approval through a national referendum.

2012 constitution

Moreover, the constitutional declaration stipulates that the president is to form within 15 days a committee to amend the frozen 2012 constitution. The committee is given a month-long period to wrap up the amendments.

The committee is to consist of two members of the High Constitutional Court, two judges, two members of State Council, and four constitutional law professors from Egyptian universities.

Members of the committee will be chosen by the respective judicial bodies, the constitutional declaration stipulates, while Egypt's Supreme Council of Universities is to assign the constitutional law professors.

The committee tasked with amending the 2012 constitution shall refer the amendments to another committee formed of 50 members, who shall represent all layers of society.

Members of the second committees will represent political parties, intellectuals, workers, farmers, syndicates, national councils, Al-Azhar, Egyptian Church, armed forces, and police, in addition to other public figures. Ten youth and women should be among the members.

Most members will also be chosen by their respective bodies while the Cabinet will choose the public figures of the committee, which is to come up with the final draft of the constitution within 60 days. The final draft should be up for public debate within the same period.

The president is to later put the amended version of the constitution to a national referendum within 30 days from receiving the final draft. It will be effective upon public approval.

The 2012 constitution was suspended as part of the Egyptian armed forces' roadmap for Egypt’s future, which saw former president Mohamed Morsi ousted on 3 July following mass protests across the nation against him.

Egypt's non-Islamist political forces have repeatedly argued the suspended constitution was not representative of all layers of society and limiting many freedoms, blaming the majority Islamist members of the outgoing constituent assembly for ignoring their recommendations.

Further articles

The declaration states that the Arab Republic of Egypt is a democratic system based on citizenship, Islam is the religion of the state, Arabic is its official language and the principles of Sharia law derived from established Sunni canons is its main source of legislation.

The people are the source of all authority. Its economic system is based on social justice. People are equal in front of the law, have equal rights and duties and are treated without discrimination based on gender, language, religion or faith, and the state guarantees equal opportunities.

A citizen's privacy is protected by law. Communications cannot be confiscated or monitored except by a court order and for a limited period of time.

Personal freedoms are guaranteed. No one can be arrested, searched or detained except by a court or prosecution order and according to the law.

Freedom of expression is guaranteed. A person can say, write, film or use any other method of self-expression within the limits of the law. The state guarantees the right to religious practice of the three Abrahamic religions.

Freedom of the press is guaranteed and censorship is prohibited except in cases of emergency or war when limited censorship may be applied to issues of national security and only in accordance with the law.

Citizens have the right to assemble and demonstrate peacefully and unarmed in accordance with the law.

Citizens can establish organisations, syndicates, unions and parties in accordance with the law. It is prohibited to form organisations which engage in activities that are against society’s system or are secret or of a military nature.

Political parties cannot be based on gender, race or religion. Parties cannot be dissolved except by a court order.

Public property has a sanctity which citizens have a duty to protect in accordance with the law. Private property is guaranteed and cannot be confiscated except for public benefit and with compensation in accordance with the law.

Any violation of personal freedoms is a crime that does not expire and the state has a responsibility to compensate victims. No citizen can be exiled or banned from entering the country.

Defending the state is a sacred responsibility. Military service is compulsory in accordance with the law. Protection of the homeland and maintaining its secrets is a duty.

No punishment can be applied except in accordance with the law and by a court order.

Law is the main basis for governing. The constitutional declaration guarantees the independence of the judiciary.

The military's judiciary is independent and is the only body that can rule in cases related to the armed forces and its personnel, and the law dictates its other authorities.       

The National Defence Council is headed by the president and is responsible for security, discussing the budget of the armed forces and any laws related to the armed forces.

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