Opposition cries foul over constitutional amendments

Yasmine Saleh
4 Min Read

Pundits predict police state if referendum passes

CAIRO: The People s Assembly passed 34 proposed constitutional amendments after three months of deliberations late Monday, but opposition forces have said debate on the articles was inadequate and unsatisfactory.

Members of the opposition announced their withdrawal from the discussions and their discontent with the results claiming that the amendments – if passed in an upcoming referendum – would severely harm Egyptian public interests and freedoms.

A total of 109 members from the Muslim Brotherhood group and the Karama, Wafd, and Tagammu parties voted against the amendments.

A number of independents and one member of the National Democratic Party (NDP) Taher Hazin voted against the constitutional changes.

Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour, general secretary of the Wafd party, criticized the deliberations saying the NDP did not listen to anyone. They did not listen to university professors, professional experts on constitutional law, human rights organizations or civil society.

The 34 amendments were rushed in a total of 12 hours maximum . this is a cheap, weak and painful ploy, Abdel-Nour told The Daily Star Egypt.

The Wafd party rejected the proposed amendments to several articles in the constitution, chiefly, article 88 which removes judicial supervision of elections; 179, which is related to the new terrorism law; and 127 which determines the degree of the President s influence over cabinet.

The Wafd party also rejected changes to article 76, which regulates presidential elections and article 93, which deals with the dismissal of members of parliament.

MP Mostafa Bakri, chief editor of the weekly newspaper Al Osboa, was reported to have been so distressed by the amendments that he collapsed after the speaker of parliament declared they had passed.

He was unavailable for comment.

Muslim Brotherhood deputy leader Mohamed Habib told The Daily Star Egypt that his group rejected the amendments because “they will turn the country into a police state soon .

He also criticized the changes to article 76 which he explained will restrict the pool from which presidential candidates will be culled.

This is against the concept of citizenship and equity between citizens, Habib said. “These changes will eradicate all aspects of political life in Egypt, he said.

But Mohamed Khalil Kwaitah, NDP member of parliament, rejected outright any criticism saying that 17 discussion sessions regarding the amendments were held in the previous weeks and months.

Seven of these were conducted within parliament chambers while the remaineder were held under the auspices of civil society.

Kwaitah told The Daily Star Egypt that all of the discussions were conducted in a democratic atmosphere and attended by political groups that included members from the opposition parties and independents.

The acceptance of the 34 changes is a satisfying and fair result, Kwaitah said, “and I do not like the idea of boycotting the discussion which some of the opposition members did. This is negative behavior.

However political analyst Nabil Abdel Fattah of the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, told The Daily Star Egypt that he had been not invited to any of those discussions.

“Neither was any other expert, he said.

The discussions conducted were not serious, they were very simple and unprofessional, Abdel Fattah said.

The changes were not well studied or addressed, just like what happened when article 76 was changed the first time and that is why it being changed again, Abdel Fattah said.

Abdel Fattah stressed that the coming changes will create a strict dictatorship under one man s authority.

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