Egypt's constitutional amendments face strong opposition

09:51, March 17, 2011      

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Many Egyptian political groups and figures on Wednesday expressed their rejection of the constitutional amendments and called citizens to vote against them in Saturday's referendum.

Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa said on Wednesday that he would participate as an Egyptian citizen, but would vote against the constitution amendments.

Moussa proposed to declare a temporary constitution under which a new president will be elected and the new president can form a committee to draw a new constitution prior to parliamentary elections, official MENA news agency said.

The constitutional amendments have been facing increasing opposition from a number of political parties and groups such as the National Coalition for Change led by former U.N. watchdog chief Mohammed ElBaradei, the Wafd Party, the Youth of the Revolution Coalition which came into being after the anti- governments protests, the Tagammu and Al-Ghad parties.

Some of those believed the rush to parliamentary elections in June and presidential polls six weeks later would benefit the Muslim Brotherhood and the former ruling National Democratic Party, both of which backed the amendments.

Others called for a complete new constitution instead of the partial changes.

Head of Al-Ghad Party Ayman Nour on Wednesday rejected the constitutional amendments, claiming that they give no limit on the power of the president.

ElBaradei warned against a parliament that doesn't represent people after saying "yes" to the suggested constitutional changes. He added in his Facebook page that "if we vote no we will move towards the right path."

Other parties, such as the "Socialist Arab Egypt Party", also rejected the constitutional changes saying they fail to meet people's aspirations.

The Egyptian cabinet, headed by Essam Sharaf, urged people to take part in the referendum process to protect the gains and accomplishments of the "Jan. 25 revolution."

Sharaf confirmed that the government will run the process with transparency and full neutrality.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took power after former President Hosni Mubarak stepped down on Feb. 11, called upon people to go to the polls to enrich this democratic experience.

Saturday will be an official holiday in all country's sectors, universities and schools for the referendum process has been scheduled to be held from 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) and end at 7 p.m. ( 1500 GMT).

The amendments were proposed by a committee appointed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which suspended the constitution and dissolved the parliament shortly after taking power.

Changes were made to articles about presidential candidacy and terms, judicial monitoring on elections, membership of the People' s Assembly.

According to the changes, the presidential term will be reduced to four years as compared with current six years, and there will be a two-term cap on the president. The president should appoint one or more vice presidents within 60 days after taking office.

Voting on the referendum also includes the cancellation of article 179 concerning the president's right to refer any terrorism crime to any concerned jurisdiction body stipulated in the constitution.

Article 189 that is concerned with the mechanism of amending the constitution will be also subject to the referendum.

Egyptian citizens aged 18 or above can use their national ID cards to participate in the referendum.

Source: Xinhua
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