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All political powers should participate in constitutional referendum: Amr Moussa

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Members of the Constituent Assembly insist that Egypt is a civil state while emphasising

Constituent Assembly Chairman Amr Moussa (centre) urged people to participate in the referendum set to be held on 14-15 January during an international press conference held on Sunday (Photo by Aaron T Rose)

Constituent Assembly Chairman Amr Moussa (centre) urged people to participate in the referendum set to be held on 14-15 January during an international press conference held on Sunday
(Photo by Aaron T Rose)

The Constituent Assembly is hoping for a 75% voter turnout in the upcoming referendum on the recently drafted constitution while also calling on all divisions of Egyptian society to participate, assembly head Amr Moussa said on Saturday.

“This constitution is for all Egyptians and all political groups are welcome to participate… we have constantly invited the Freedom and Justice Party to take part in the roadmap; however, they declined,” Moussa said.

“If they seek reconciliation, it has to be unconditional,” he added.

A press conference held at the State Information Service headquarters in Nasr City was attended by seven members of the Constituent Assembly to answer questions regarding the draft constitution.

Attendees included spokesman of the Constituent Assembly Mohamed Salmawy, former leading Muslim Brotherhood figure Kamal Al-Helbawi and Secretary General of the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood  Azza Al-Ashmawi.

The former presidential candidate said that participation in this constitution is imperative, as it will help bring Egypt “out of this chaotic period”, adding that the constitution ensures democracy and protects Egyptian citizens.

Previously, various groups have attacked the Constituent Assembly for not adding an article declaring Egypt as a civil state; however, Moussa quickly dismissed these claims, stressing that the he had “constantly clarified that the constitution declares the Egyptian republic as a civil one.”

“Egypt is a civil state and is part of the Muslim world; religious-based parties have commended how the constitution tackled the Egyptian religiosity aspect,” he added.

The constituent assembly finalised the draft constitution on 3 December before interim president Adly Mansour announced on 14 December that the referendum will be held on 14 and 15 January.

When asked about Article 234, which necessitates approval by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces in appointing the defence minister, Moussa highlighted that this is a transitional article and “due to exceptional circumstances, this article was [put in place]; however, the Minister of Defence is still part of the upcoming cabinet and is subject to removal.”

Salmawy said that more than 190 articles were amended and 46 new articles were added, including 18 rights and freedoms articles.

“This constitution reflects Egypt’s religiosity; however, more than any previous ones, it lays the foundation for a civil state through articles that stipulate the banning of religious-based parties,” Salmawy added.

“For the first time in Egyptian history, discriminatory acts against women and race are tackled in a constitution. These acts are incriminated by law as per the draft constitution,” Ashmawi said.

She added that the 2012 constitution was extremely deficient in providing child protection laws and the 2013 constitution treats this problem efficiently.

Helbawi added that after a meeting with Al-Nour Party leaders, there was apparent concurrence and consent over the manner with which the constitution addressed the issue of religion.

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