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Egypt military 'to appoint defence minister in next 2 presidential terms', says constitution committee member

Amr El-Shobaki says most members of constitution committee back military's right to appoint defence minister during next two presidential terms

Gamal Essam El-Din , Wednesday 9 Oct 2013
he Minister of Defense, Lt. Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, left, meeting with interim president Adly Mansour July 6, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

The military should name the defence minister during the next two presidential terms, after which the matter should be reviewed, a member of Egypt's 50-member constitution committee has said.

This is the view of most committee members, said Amr Al-Shobaki, chairperson of its system of governance subcommittee.

Discussion of articles about the military had proved very difficult, El-Shobaki added during a press conference on Wednesday.

He accused the Muslim Brotherhood of damaging the army. "The main objective of this group during its year in power was to take revenge on the army and settle what it considered old accounts with its leaders."

He added: "This created a lot of sensitivity among army officials regarding the status of the army and the defence minister in the new constitution."

El-Shobaki said he hoped the relationship between the army and the civilian government would improve after the new constitution is passed and a new president elected.

"We understand why army officials are so apprehensive about the new constitution, especially after the Brotherhood tried to undermine the army during its year in power," El-Shobaki said.

El-Shobaki said his subcommittee would finalise the chapters and articles under its review on Thursday. The controversial articles detail whether 50 percent of seats reserved for farmers' and workers' representatives would be maintained, and whether a new upper house [the Senate] would be created.

El-Shobaki said the Senate would be elected under a different electoral law and would include highly experienced figures who usually abstain from contesting elections.

The number of deputies in the lower house could reach 500, while there would be fewer than half that number in the Senate. All deputies in the lower house would be elected, while a third of Senate members would be appointed, he added.

Candidates for the lower house would have to be at least 25 years old and hold a high school certificate, he said. While those standing in the Senate election would have to be at least 40 years old and hold a university degree.

"We are on schedule to have an initial draft ready before the Eid Al-Adha holiday," said Mohamed Salmawy, media spokesperson for the 50-member committee.

He added: "It will include a preamble clearly stating the new constitution seeks to realise two main goals of the two revolutions of 25 January 2011 and 30 June 2013: Securing national independence and rejecting religious rule."

"After the Al-Adha holiday members of the specialised committees and sub-committees will hold private meetings in order to agree on a final version which will then be discussed by the 50-member committee in plenary sessions.

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