Xinhua (Beijing)

29 November 2012

Egypt: Draft Constitution Expected to be Finished Soon

Photo: Xinhua/Amru Salahuddien
Egyptian protesters in Tahrir Square.

Cairo — Egypt's Constitutional Assembly is expected to soon finalize a draft constitution in a bid to end ongoing violence triggered by what many see as a presidential power grab.

At least three people have been killed and more than 600 injured during protests across Egypt over a controversial presidential declaration that the opposition claims gives Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohamed Morsi too much power.

Amr Darrag, secretary general of Egypt's Constitutional Assembly, said the only solution to the crisis is to finalize the new charter as soon as possible even if the consensus is much lower than expected.

An assembly vote on the final draft is expected early Thursday and the approved version will be referred to Morsi.

Several liberal, nationalist and leftist party representatives have withdrawn from the assembly due to unbalanced representation, but Hossam al-Gharyani, the assembly leader, urged them to return and finish discussions on the draft constitution.

The action came as new skirmishes erupted between Morsi supporters and the opposition Tuesday in Gharbiya Governorate in Nile Delta and left at least 100 people injured.

Morsi, Egypt's first civilly elected president issued last Thursday a new constitution declaration that spawned large-scale protests across the country.

In the declaration, Morsi ordered that all laws, decrees and constitutional declarations he has issued since taking office in June are final and unchallengeable.

Morsi's declaration said a new constitution should be written within a maximum period of eight months, extending a previously set deadline by two months to February 2013.

It also said no judicial body can dissolve the Shura Council (the upper house) or the Constitutional Assembly.

After Morsi met with members of the Supreme Judicial Council following the protests over the weekend, presidential spokesman Yasser Ali on Monday announced that no changes were made to the new constitutional declaration and "sovereignty matters" were the only field free of legal reviews.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian administrative court has decided to on Dec. 4 review the the lawsuits filed by the opposition over Morsi's declaration.

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