Friday, 13 January 2012

Egypt: Constitution to be drafted before presidential elections

Further details have emerged about last year's talks between the military rulers and political parties, including the Islamists and liberals, about the timing of the presidential election. Should it be after the drafting of a new constitution or before? According to the Islamist lawyer and presidential hopeful Mohamed Selim El-Awa, who confirmed the meetings took place on 22nd November, it was agreed that the constitution will be drafted first and the presidential elections be held later.

There is logic in this. How can an Egyptian president be elected before a constitution is drawn up to define his powers and responsibilities?

The secularists fear, however, that those who will draw up the constitution will seek to introduce a greater Islamisation of legal code. Last month a group of activists put forward a proposal to bring the presidential elections forward to the end of March.

El-Awa, who is related by marriage to a member of the ruling army council, said that Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) had been represented by the army chief of staff Sami Anan, who in effect is the number two in the hierarchy. He met representatives of the FJP, Al Nour, Al Wasat, the liberal Al Wafd and the Democratic Front party.

For its part, the advisory council, which was appointed by the military council, argued that a consensus has to be reached by all parties before the holding of presidential elections. Given the starkly opposing positions it is hard to see how such a consensus can be reached. Instead, the Islamists, with the greatest share of the popular vote, and the military, with the firepower, are in agreement.

For more news and expert analysis about Egypt, please see Egypt Politics & Security.

© 2012 Menas Associates

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