Interim president Adly Mansour ratified the constitutional declaration governing the transitional period late on Monday.
The declaration consists of 33 articles that will represent the constitution of the country until amending the suspended constitution, according to the roadmap put forward by Minister of Defence Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi, which was ratified by national figures, Al-Azhar and the Coptic Church.
The declaration outlines the progression of the transitional period; 15 days from the date of its issue an experts’ committee shall be formed from judges and legal experts. The committee shall then suggest amendments on the now-suspended 2012 constitution within 30 days.
The suggested amendments will be presented to a 50-member committee, representing all sectors of the Egyptian society, which would issue a final draft within 60 days.
The declaration states that the president would call for a referendum on the final constitutional draft 30 days after its receipt from the committee. If approved in the referendum, the constitution would be valid.
It also stated that 15 days after the constitution’s adoption the president shall call for House of Representatives elections that should take between one and two months.
Within a week from the first session of the House of Representatives, presidential elections shall be called for; the elections are to be supervised by the Supreme Electoral Commission.
The declaration identified the authorities of the president, giving him the power to legislate after consulting the cabinet; the legislative authority shall be transferred to the House of Representatives once it has been elected.
The president shall set the general policy and budget, and sign international treaties after consulting the cabinet; he also has the power to declare war after consulting the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and with the approval of the National Defence Council.
The National Defence Council is headed by the President and oversees methods of securing the country, discusses the armed forces’ budget, and is consulted on laws concerning the armed forces.
The declaration stated the rules for imposing emergency law: the president can announce a state of emergency after consulting the cabinet for a maximum period of three months; it can only be extended for another three months after gaining the approval of the people through a referendum.
Articles (16-20) discuss the independence of the judicial authority and several courts like the Supreme Constitutional Court, the State Council and the Military judiciary.
The source of legislation according to article (1) of the declaration is the principals of Islamic Sharia according to the teachings of Sunna.
Article (2) stated that the people are the source of all authorities.
Articles (5-8) are dedicated to rights and freedoms including personal freedoms, freedom of expression, religious freedoms and media freedom: “censorship over press and what is published by the media is prohibited” the only exception is in times of emergency or war.
Article (7) ensures freedom of belief to followers of “heavenly” religions (Muslims, Christians and Jews).
Mohamed Nour Farahat, a constitutional expert, analysed the declaration, saying that the influence of the Islamist Al-Nour Party was clear.
“The declaration adopted the definition of principals of Islamic Sharia presented by the Salafi current,” Farahat said.
He added that the declaration seemed closer to maintaining the status quo rather than paving the way to adopt future constitutional amendments that meets the demands of the revolution.
Farahat also criticised the declaration for not prohibiting forming religious parties; it only prohibited parties based on religious or gender discrimination. “This formula was presented by the former Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and it allowed the formation of currently existent religious parties.”
He added that the declaration failed to safeguard the principal of separation of powers, as it gave the President both executive and legislative authorities: “it should have established a separate legislative committee like Tunisia.”
Professor of general constitutional law, Mohamed Salah, said in a televised interview that the declaration was suitable to the transitional period.
“If the president sensed the declaration wasn’t approved by national powers he can either amend it or issue a supplementary declaration,” he added.