Egypt Enacts Constitution, Opposition Persists
Egypt’s president Mohamed Morsi signed an executive order enacting Egypt’s new constitution on December 25. The referendum vote still remains under dispute however, as the National Council for Human Rights reported 1,073 complaints from civil society organizations to the High Judicial Elections Commission. Complaints include “delayed opening of polling stations, influencing voters inside and outside stations, early closing of stations, collective voting and impeding observers.”
The Shura Council held its first session to swear in 90 new members, all of whom are directly appointed by Morsi. Egypt Independent published an exhaustive list of the appointees, which consists of “constitutional experts, eight women, 12 Copts, eight members of Egyptian churches, five members of Al-Azhar and two of the wounded of the revolution.” Despite Morsi’s attempt to broaden the national dialogue, many still oppose the constitution itself.
National Salvation Front (NSF) spokesperson Hussein Abdel-Ghani labeled the constitution “unrepresentative” and stated that the NSF would continue to fight against it “through all democratic mechanisms, whether through protests, sit-ins and parliamentary elections.” Mohamed ElBaradei of the Constitution Party stated that it should be “treated as an [interim document] until another is written up on the basis of consensus.” He asserted the document “constrains basic values such as freedom of belief and expression and independence of the judiciary” and that his party would make cancellation of the document their top priority.
The government kept its promise to rescind the military’s power to arrest civilians until a new constitution was in place; the arrest power was formally withdrawn on December 24. On December 25 the United States Department of State released a press statement addressing the new constitution. The State Dept. called on Morsi to acknowledge his “special responsibility to…bridge divisions, build trust, and broaden support for the political process.” The statement also called on those disappointed with the outcome to “seek…deeper engagement,” and for both sides to “commit themselves to condemn and prevent violence.”