Following days of quite debatable leaks, the first draft of the suggested amendments to Egypt’s suspended 2012 Constitution, which was effectively drafted by the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists, has finally come to light.
The proposed amendments are the result of the work of a 10-person committee of judicial experts and members of the judiciary, all chosen by the legal and educational entities they represent according to the constitutional declaration governing Egypt following Morsi’s ouster on July 3. These amendments will then be submitted for review to a still-unformed 50-person committee that would theoretically represent Egyptian society as a whole. The final say over what goes into the amendments will be, as things stand, in the hands of the 10-person committee, while the mini-assembly will mainly submit its opinions and demands, which do not appear binding according to the text of the current constitutional charter. Recent rhetoric suggests a potential drive toward further empowering the 50-person assembly to better improve the image of this being the result of a more democratic process.
This draft will be the subject of a back-and-forth race for about two months, as per the transitional charter, and significant changes will likely take place. Mainly, the most interesting dynamic to watch — other than whether or not the Brotherhood will have any official influence on the final draft — would be the relationship between the current administration and the Salafists. In the original constitution, the Salafists had effectively been at the heart of the more controversial religious-based articles, yet still signed off on June 30 and are still fully part of the current political process.
The initial impression of this current draft is that it is a significant and substantial edit of its 2012 original, rather than a monumental and groundbreaking change. It is slightly slimmer (about 40 articles were axed, many of which were of literary rather than legal effect) and brings what could be argued as some subtle improvements from a democratic perspective. Yet it still leaves much to be desired: solidification and expansion of liberties, a welcome and preset electoral system and further decentralization of the Egyptian state. This is essentially a preliminary reading of the draft and not intended to be an exhaustive analysis. The focus is on the most important aspects of what has changed and what hasn’t.
By Bassem Sabry
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