6 December 2012

Egypt: Vice President Calls for Dialogue About Controversial Articles of Constitution

Vice President (VP) Mahmoud Mekki has called for political dialogue to reach an agreement about controversial articles in the proposed constitution.

The personal initiative by Mekki comes in the wake of spiraling tension between powers against the constitution and others for it.

Speaking in a press conference one day after a mass rally outside the Ittihadiya Palace against the constitutional declaration and the referendum, the VP called on all powers to sit down and talk out a written bill to be referred to parliament to amend the articles.

The dispute is about only 15 articles and it is mostly about the wording, Mekki noted. The VP was surprised by the constitutional declaration issued during his visit to Pakistan to attend the G8 summit.

"We are keen on holding the referendum on time," Mekki said, stressing the people's will should be respected. The referendum does not mean the opposition demands cannot be met, he noted.

Mekki has stressed the importance of peaceful protests as started in the January 25th Revolution.

Mekki said: "Police had strict orders not to use violence."

He also urged protesters to protect public property and not to resort to violence.

"We will overcome the current tension," Mekki said, stressing "no political faction makes the majority."

It is the ballot boxes that call the shots, the VP said. "Egypt has changed starting from the ruler down to the ruled."

Regarding Tuesday's protests where hundreds of thousands flocked to the vicinity of the presidential palace to denounce President Mohamed Morsi's recent decisions, the VP asserted his respect for peaceful protesters, but accused some of them of attacking members of the security forces.

He further praised police for not responding to protesters and avoiding clashes.

"We cannot continue this battle, mobilize people from both sides that is a never ending battle. The ballot boxes will decide," he said, referring to mass demonstrations of both pro-Morsi supporters and opposition groups and parties.

Mekki said that Egypt's looted funds are used to create chaos in the country, adding that people who have reservations on the constitutional declaration have the right to express their onions freely.

He, meanwhile, said "(We) could ... agree from now on amendments in a written document before the referendum." However, he said that this was "not a formal initiative but a personal idea."

Mekki said that debate is open for all those opposed to the new constitution, urging all political powers to limit their disagreements.

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