CAIRO: Fifteen political groups and four presidential hopefuls called for resignation of Deputy Prime Minister for Political Affairs Ali El-Selmy and threatened to hold mass protests on Nov. 18 if a proposed charter of constitutional principles is ratified by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
El-Selmy held a meeting with representatives of several political parties and groups on Tuesday to discuss principles that would govern the drafting of the new constitution, which saw several party leaders walk out in objection.
"We have the [appropriate] climate and elements to hold a second revolution now,” Mohamed Morsi, head of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), said during a conference on Wednesday.
The statement called on SCAF to clearly announce its stance on the charter and distance itself from it.
While the FJP statement fell short of directly condemning SCAF or holding it responsible for pushing for the charter, other parties were quick to point out SCAF’s involvement.
Head of Al-Wasat Party Aboul Ela Mady said that article 9 of the proposed charter gives SCAF excessive authority.
Article 9 guarantees the secrecy of the military budget and prevents the People’s Assembly (PA) from scrutinizing it. It also stipulates that the president can’t declare war without the approval of SCAF and parliament.
"What happened yesterday [in the meeting with El-Selmy] contradicts what we had agreed upon," Mady said.
Abdallah Al-Ashaal, a presidential hopeful, told Daily News Egypt following the conference that the "military council doesn’t want to leave power … it’s very evident now."
On his part, Mohamed El-Sawy, director of El-Sawy Cultural Wheel, described the charter as a "public insult" to the Egyptian people.
The charter also gives SCAF the authority to replace the constituent assembly if it fails to draft a constitution within the designated six-month period, in addition to the right to object to any articles it deems contradictory to the temporary constitutional declaration announced in March.
According to the proposal, if the constituent assembly refuses to amend any article in the constitution based on SCAF’s recommendations, the case will be referred to the Supreme Constitutional Court which would issue a final decision.
The political parties attending the conference included Al-Adl, Al-Wasat, FJP, Revolutionary Ghad and the Labor parties, in addition to presidential hopefuls Mohamed Selim El-Awa, Ayman Nour, Abdallah Al-Ashaal, and Hesham Youssef representing Amr Moussa.
Al-Wasat and El-Adl parties walked out of the meeting with El-Selmy on Tuesday, while the FJP and Salifi political parties including Al-Asala and the Building and Development Party had boycotted the meeting altogether.
Nour, head of the Revolutionary Ghad Party, described most of the political parties that agreed to El-Selmy’s document as remnants of the former regime and those who "emerged from the womb" of the former ruling, now-disbanded National Democratic Party (NDP).
"They were used by SCAF just as they were used before by the former regime to support Mubarak’s," he said.
However, Mohamed Farag, assistant Secretary General of Al-Tagammu Party who accepted the charter alongside Al-Wafd and others, refused the allegations, saying that Al-Tagammu fought against the hegemony of the now disbanded NDP.
"These accusations are completely groundless," Farag told DNE.
"Al-Wafd and Al-Tagammu have been established parties long before the NDP was founded," he added.
He pointed out that most of the parties that accepted the charter had reservations on article 9.
The political powers said that they refused the idea of amending the charter and wanted to annul it as a whole.
"The idea of the charter is refused in form and content and the idea of amending any of its articles is also refused," El-Awa said.
He said that the charter stripped parliament and the constituent assembly of authority.
"This charter imposes guardianship on the parliament," El-Awa said in response to a question asked by DNE.
According to the proposed charter, the new parliament will elect the 100-member constituent assembly, which will consist of 80 members from outside the parliament and 20 elected MPs reflecting the percentage of seats of their parties.
FJP head Morsi pointed out that political powers agreed that the constituent assembly should represent all sectors of Egyptian society, without enforcing further restrictions.
The April 6 Youth Movement condemned the charter and slammed SCAF.
"Any principles that allow SCAF to rule the country and do not hold them accountable are completely unacceptable," media coordinator for the April 6 Youth Movement, Ingi Hamdi, said.