Deputy PM says 1971 constitution invalidated

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CAIRO: The 1971 constitution is now null and void while the amended articles will be included at the core of a constitutional decree, Deputy Prime Minister Yehia El-Gamal said Wednesday.

In a televised interview with Dream TV’s “Al-Ashera Masa’an,” El-Gamal, also a constitutional law professor, said that the decree aimed to “chart the path of the next phase” in its entirety.

By “invalidating the legitimacy of the former regime,” the January 25 Revolution led to “what we call…revolutionary legitimacy,” El-Gamal told TV host Mona El-Shazly.

“The 1971 constitution was suspended by … the armed forces. And based on this, a referendum was held [Saturday] on the amendment of some articles,” he added.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces suspended the constitution on Feb. 13 after assuming power when former president Hosni Mubarak stepped down two days earlier.

A few days later the army formed a committee of legal experts to amend the constitution.

“The constitution was [first] suspended and now it has been terminated,” El-Gamal said.

The referendum, he added, was conducted on a number of articles that required the people’s approval before being added to a new constitution.

El-Gamal said the constitutional decree will act as a temporary constitution to run the country until a new constitution is drafted within the coming year.

The new constitution will be drafted after electing a People’s Assembly, El-Gamal said, giving no definite date as to when the constitution would be re-written.

Afterwards, a constituent assembly will be chosen by elected MPs to draft a new constitution.

“The committee will seek expert advice [if needed],” El-Gamal said. “The draft constitution will then be put to a public referendum.”

According to El-Gamal, a number of articles to be added to the decree are general constitutional principles that will not be voted on.

On Sunday, the Supreme Judicial Commission overseeing the referendum announced that 77.2 percent of over 18 million citizens who voted approved the amendments.

The Muslim Brotherhood, other Islamist groups and the remnants of Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) called for a ‘yes’ vote. Analysts believe the two groups would benefit the most from early parliamentary elections.

Reformers and most opposition parties, on the other hand, urged a ‘no’ vote saying they wanted the constitution re-written before elections.

The 1971 constitution comprised 211 articles and was adopted in 1971. It was amended three times since, in 1980, 2005 and 2007.

The recent referendum was on amendments to Articles 75, 76, 77, 88, 93, 139 and 148, the cancellation of Article 179 and the insertion of a paragraph in Article 189 and the addition of two items to it.

Most of the suggested articles have to do with legislative and presidential elections and parliamentary and presidential jurisdictions including easing restrictions on who can run for president as well as imposing presidential term limits.

The cabinet would pass five laws that complement the constitution. It approved on Wednesday a draft law easing restrictions on establishing political parties. A judicial committee formed of judges only will be in charge of receiving notifications of forming political parties.




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