18 June 2012

Africa: ANHRI Rejects the Military Constitutional Declaration

press release

ANHRI categorically rejects the Constitutional Declaration issued by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) on June 17th. The Declaration is in fact a declaration that Egypt is a military dictatorship until further notice. It usurps the powers of the elected president and the legislative authority. By that Declaration, the military has clearly announced that it will not hand over power as promised. Legally, this Declaration and all its consequent effects are void, unless a referendum is held and the people vote yes for it.

ANHRI had already rejected the principle of the issuance of any constitutional declaration after the election of the Parliament. Since May, there has been increasing talk on complementary constitutional declaration. ANHRI released a press alert explaining its position on so-called complementary declarations.

ANHRI believes that the solemn respect for the legitimacy of the referendum of March 2011 has been eliminated by the issuance of this Declaration.

ANHRI stressed on that the Declaration steals the legislative authority that is no longer the right of the SCAF according to the Constitutional Declaration of March. Only the Parliament has the right to legislate. The fact that the Parliament has been dissolved does not give the SCAF the right to legislate. The interim constitution may not be amended without a new referendum.

By the recent Constitutional Declaration, SCAF usurps most of the fundamental powers of the elected president. The president may not declare war (article 53 bis 1), intervene in the promotion or expulsion of military officers (article 53 bis), or use the armed forces to secure the country internally except with the approval of SCAF (article 53 bis 2). This means that the military is administratively independent from the executive authority, which is contrary to all democratic traditions.

These articles turn the military into a state within a state. They expose the real concerns of the leaders of the armed forces and the immediate causes of such a declaration.

The Declaration included amendments that show the real intents of SCAF towards the next constitution of Egypt. It gives SCAF and the Constitutional Court a major role in the formation of the Founding Committee of the Constitution and the right to object to the draft of the constitution or put it on hold (article 60 bis 1).

"Egypt is at a crossroads between the completion of the revolution and entrenchment of the rule of law and democracy, and the full militarization of the state. The latter option would make the military enjoy broad powers forever at the expense of the elected executive and legislative authorities," said ANHRI.

ANHRI calls on all rights activists, legal experts, and national forces to reject this Declaration and take all legal and political procedures to annul it in order to enable the legitimate and elected bodies to carry out their functions without compromise.

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