Under intense criticism from political parties and Islamists in particular, Deputy Prime Minister Ali al-Selmy announced amendments to Articles 9 and 10 of the controversial draft constitutional principles issued by the interim government on November 1. The amendments have removed the word “solely” from the clause guaranteeing the military’s right to manage its own affairs and grant a National Defense Council headed by the president the authority to supervise the military’s budget.
Blogger and activist Alaa Abdel Fattah and others detained in connection with the October 9 Maspero clashes were summoned by the military prosecution for an appeal hearing on November 3. The court ruled against releasing Fattah, who was arrested and ordered detained for 15 days pending investigation after refusing to be interrogated by the military prosecution on October 30; he has also been accused of stealing military arms and inciting violence during the Maspero incident. [Al-Ahram, English, 11/3/2011] [Al-Shorouk, Arabic, 11/3/2011]
Ahead of the Eid-Al-Adha holiday, the SCAF announced the release of 334 detainees convicted in military courts in a statement on the council’s official Facebook page. Human rights activists estimate that 12,000 civilians have been subject to military prosecution since the SCAF assumed power on February 11. [Al-Ahram, English, 11/3/2011]
Hundreds of protesters marched from the Supreme Court down Talaat Harb Street to demand an end to military trials and call upon the civilian judiciary to launch an investigation into the Maspero incident. [Al-Shorouk, Arabic, 11/3/2011]
Under intense pressure from political forces, Deputy Prime Minister Ali al-Selmy announced amendments to Articles 9 and 10 of the controversial draft supra-constitutional principles, pertaining to the powers of the military and the composition of the constituent assembly. The amendments have removed the word “solely” from the clause guaranteeing the military’s right to manage its own affairs. The amendments grant a National Defense Council including the speakers of the People’s Assembly and Shura Council and the head of the Central Auditing Agency the right to supervise the military’s budget. The amendments have also revised the composition of the constituent assembly, reducing the number of consultants and university professors from 15 to 12 and increasing the number of female representatives in addition to three representatives of al-Azhar and another three from the church. [Al-Masry al-Youm, English, 11/3/2011] [Al-Shorouk, Arabic, 11/3/2011]
Several independent newspapers have obtained the full text of the supra-constitutional principles issued by Deputy Prime Minister Ali al-Selmi following a meeting with 500 representatives of political parties and movements, available in Arabic here. The principles released on November 1 (which have since been amended) include the following points:
- The document preserves Article 2 of the 1971 Constitution, stating that “the principles of Islamic Sharia are the main source of legislation” and permitting non-Muslims to refer to their own laws pertaining to civil and religious matters.
- Article 9 of the document states that “only the military has the right to discuss matters related to the armed forces or discuss its budget.” The military’s budget will be listed as a single figure in the overall state budget. Article 9 also states that the military must grant prior approval for any legislation pertaining to the armed forces.
- The 100-member constituent assembly will include 80 SCAF-appointed individuals who are not members of parliament, a point that has drawn heavy criticism from Islamist parties which expect substantial representation in the next People’s Assembly. The next elected parliament will select 20 MPs to serve on the constituent assembly based on the proportional representation of parties.
- The president is only authorized to declare war after obtaining the consent of both parliament and the SCAF.
- If the SCAF deems that the draft constitution produced by this assembly is inconsistent with the principles announced by al-Selmi and previous Egyptian constitutions, the SCAF has the power to ask the assembly to revise the text within 15 days.
- If the constituent assembly fails to produce a draft constitution within 6 months, the SCAF has the power to dissolve the committee and form a new one that would be required to write a constitution within 3 months, which would then be subject to a popular referendum. [Masrawy, Arabic, 11/2/2011] [Al-Ahram, English, 11/3/2011
The supra-constitutional principles issued by the interim government have been broadly condemned by major movements including April 6 Youth and most Islamist political forces, including the Muslim Brotherhood, which issued a statement rejecting the document and pointing out that its conditions violate Article 60 of the SCAF’s own constitutional declaration in March 2011, which stated that the constituent assembly would include 100 member members chosen by elected members of parliament. [Al-Ahram, English, 11/3/2011]
Prime Minister Essam Sharaf said he sees no reason to postpone the parliamentary elections beyond November 28. Sharaf stated that a Nasser-era Treason Law that would bar former NDP members from political activity will be reactivated in time for parliamentary elections, once the SCAF approves a draft which has already been finalized and submitted by the Cabinet. [Al-Youm al-Saba’a, Arabic, 11/3/2011] [Al-Shorouk, Arabic, 11/3/2011]
The official campaign period opened on November 2, but most parties refrained from major campaign activities, saying they will wait until after Eid al-Adha begins on November 6 to begin widespread campaigning. However, a number of Islamist parties are actively campaigning. The Salafi Nour Party opened a charity market in Fayoum for Eid and promised to distribute meat for free or at discounted prices during the holiday, and on November 2, a spokesman for the Freedom and Justice Party confirmed that the party will use the slogan “Islam is the Solution.” [Al-Masry al-Youm, English, 11/3/2011]
The leftist Revolution Continues Alliance (RCA), which includes the Popular Socialist Alliance Party, the Islamist Egyptian Current Party, the Coalition of the Revolutionary Youth, and the Socialist Party, officially launched its parliamentary campaign on November 2 under the slogan, “Security, Freedom and Justice.” The RCA will field a total of 286 candidates, including several women and Copts, for the People’s Assembly and Shura Council. [Al-Ahram, English, 11/3/2011]
Leading Muslim Brotherhood figure Medhat al-Haddan urged Islamist presidential candidates to withdraw from the elections, saying, “It’s not in the interests of the Egyptian people that Islamists come to power.” [Al-Masry al-Youm, English, 11/3/2011]
Egypt’s Central Bank lost US$2 billion from its international cash reserves in October, bringing its reserves down from $24.1 billion in September to $22.1 billion. [Al-Masry al-Youm, English, 11/3/2011]