President Mohamed Morsy addressed the nation Wednesday on account of the country’s first post-revolution constitution being passed, stating that Egypt is now heading towards a democracy.
“Today we celebrate our new constitution. It is a historic day. Egypt has a free constitution chosen by the people. It is not a grant from a king or an obligation from a president or dictation from an occupier,” Morsy said.
He stated that the constitutional referendum has taken place transparently and was monitored by the media, judges and non-governmental organisations. Morsy thanked police and army forces for guarding the polls and the voting process. He also thanked former Vice-President Mahmoud Mekki for his efforts in the transitional phase.
Throughout his speech, Morsy has repeatedly mentioned that he is a servant of the people, with no aim for authority.
“This constitution limits the authority of the president and does not make him a dictator with sweeping powers,” he said.
With the passing of the constitution, Morsy said that the legislative powers have been transferred to the “institution representing the people, which is the Shura Council.”
The final draft of the constitution passed with just over 10 million of Egypt’s 85 million citizens voting for it. This accounted for a healthy 64 per cent “Yes” vote of the 33 per cent of eligible voters who ended up going to the polls.
The document was contentious even during its composition, as members of the Constituent Assembly resigned in protests that left a nearly exclusively Islamist body to approve the final draft.
“This phase has witnessed a great deal of debate. This difference in thought and opinion is a healthy phenomenon,” he said.
The constitutional draft has been criticised for both its content and how it came to be passed. Many of its detractors see it as ensuring power for religious and military establishments at the expense of individual and minority rights. The draft was also criticised for passing amidst a series of unilateral moves that neutered dissent in both the judiciary and the Constituent Assembly.
The political fallout due to the referendum process has resulted in an increasingly isolated Muslim Brotherhood, a newly unified opposition alliance and a salafi bloc that suddenly finds itself compromised and fractured.
As for the Egyptian people, the referendum process would appear to have taken a heavy toll. The ultimate sacrifice was felt by both sides when a number of young men lost their lives in street protests. The city itself has also seen the newly revamped downtown, again segmented off like a war zone, joined by upscale Heliopolis which is now covered in graffiti, barbed wire, and Central Security trucks.