Associate Professor of Law, School of Law
Texas A&M University
Nathan J. Brown
Professor of Political Science and International Affairs
George Washington University
Mirette F. Mabrouk
Deputy Director for Regional Programs, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East
Egypt’s appointed fifty-person Constituent Assembly finalized the draft constitution on Sunday and the document is expected to go before the Egyptian voters in the coming weeks for a popular referendum. One year ago, a previous Constituent Assembly released a highly contested draft constitution for public referendum. Overwhelmingly dominated by Islamists, that group is said to have ignored all other voices and many Egyptians derided the resulting constitution as unrepresentative. Islamists, among other interest groups, are notably absent from the current Constituent Assembly, with many refusing to accept the legitimacy of the new document.
Sections of the draft charter have raised concerns, among them controversial articles that allow civilians to be tried in military courts, the judiciary to oversee itself, and freedom of worship limited to followers of the Abrahamic religions only. Moreover, a last-minute amendment to the draft has opened the door to holding presidential elections before the parliamentary vote, which would deviate from the steps laid out in the July 8 transition roadmap. However, some Egyptians point to new articles as signs of progress, for example guaranteeing freedom of expression, strengthening due process, and banning torture. Buffeted by political tension and national polarization, will this latest draft constitution help stabilize Egypt or further polarize it? Is the document one that the revolution deserves or one that it will settle for?
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