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Egypt’s draft constitution approved for referendum

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-12-02

Egypt’s new draft constitution was approved Sunday for a referendum as part of a "democratic transition" after Islamist president Mohammed Morsi's ouster. The text preserves the military’s wide-ranging powers, including the ability to try civilians.

Egypt’s new draft constitution was on Sunday approved for a referendum as part of a "democratic transition" after Islamist president Mohammed Morsi's ouster, but opens the way for a presidential election to be held before parliamentary polls.

"Now we have approved the draft," Amr Mussa, the head of the 50-member constitution-drafting panel, announced on live television, almost five months after the army toppled Morsi.

The revised charter preserves the military's wide-ranging powers, including the ability to try civilians in certain cases.

Officials say a referendum is likely to be held in January.

Earlier the panel had rejected an article outlining the schedule of parliamentary and presidential elections -  tentatively planned for mid-2014 -  forcing the charter writers to redraft it.

The rewritten article, read out by Mussa, says the procedures for the "first election" must begin at least 30 days after the adoption of the constitution but cannot go beyond 90 days.

"Procedures for the other election must begin within six months of the referendum."

The rewritten article did not specify which election would be held first.

'The president will decide'

Abdel Gilil Mustafa, a senior member of the panel, told an Egyptian television network that "the president will decide which election will be held first."

Army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted the Muslim Brotherhood's Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected leader, on July 3 after mass protests against him. Sisi suspended the constitution and an assembly was named to draft a new one by December 3.

The document it has produced proscribes any political party founded on "a religious basis", reverting to a prohibition that was in force during Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule.

Even though Islamists dominated five national votes held since Mubarak fell in 2011, the constituent assembly includes only two Islamists - one from the hardline Salafi Nour party and the other a former Brotherhood leader who is now harshly critical of the group he left last year.

Authorities have pursued a campaign to repress the Brotherhood, accusing it of violence and terrorism. Hundreds were killed when security forces stormed two pro-Morsi protest camps in August and thousands have been arrested since then.

The Brotherhood, which formally renounced violence decades ago, accuses the army of staging a military coup.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

Date created : 2013-12-01

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