• Reports
  • July 9, 2006
  • 35 minutes read

Constitutional Amendments To Further Consolidate Gov’t Power

All those concerned with the political situation in Egypt thought that Egypt is on its way to a genuine political reform, but matters turned out to be getting worse day by day, with the amendments introduced on article 76 as being convincing evidence that these amendments have been made only to restrict the political life and work in favor of the ruling elite. This can also show clearly in the government judiciary bill which disregarded all the demands of the judges and confirmed the entire control of the overbearing executive authority on the judiciary one.

 The matter didn’t stop at this. Sources close to the political milieu say that about 30 constitutional articles of the third chapter of the constitution related to the freedoms and public rights will undergo amendments. The question which nags is : Will the  Egyptian  opposition be able to stand up to these constitutional amendments which threaten Egypt’s political future, or that it will fail as it failed before vis a vis the amendments of article 76 and the judiciary authority law ?

Now there is a tug of war between the Egyptian regime and the opposition. Dr. Abdul Monem Abul Fetouh, the MB Executive Council member, sees that the neo NDP interest groups are behind these amendments, adding that they only seek to safeguard their interests in case the country has fallen in the hands of foreign quarters, citing the use of force against the judges and journalists to pass specific laws. Abul Fetouh warns that these interest groups have been chosen mainly  to make way for  the American Zionist scheme into the region especially Egypt, considering this attitude as  swimming against the current and affirming that these schemes will surely fail, recalling that Arabs and Muslims have been able to fail such schemes. He warns that if these interest groups persist with their scheme, the nation will lag behind the other nations, with the free voices of the county being gagged so that they don’t stand in the way of their scheme.

For his part, Dr. Diaa Rashwan , a  researcher with Al Ahram Centre for Political Studies, exclusively told Ikhwanweb that all indicators available show that the NDP with its wings has made up its mind to backtrack from the steps which it had made on the road to political reform. Rashwan affirmed that all political and security measures  that the government has taken recently, either with the judges or journalists or others, confirm that the NDP and its government are relentlessly heading for not only the eliminating what the nation sees as a push to the right direction, but also to forestall any endeavors in the future which could lead to any hope for  reform.

 Rashwan lamented that the future has become threatened now that the NDP government concocts some essential constitutional amendments to be referred to the Two Houses when they start their terms of session in November of this year, cautioning that these amendments are headed to thwart all the gains which the Egyptians and their political forces have managed to achieve throughout the past twenty five years. Rashwan considers any unilateral constitutional amendment on the part of the government as a Constitutional Upheaval  which he said will not stop at these amendments but it heads for abolishing the judiciary supervision on the election to give free hand to the security authorities to run the elections in the way the ruling regimes sees fit for its interests. While  Rashwan ruled out the issue of succession, citing the dissimilarity between the situation in Egypt and that in Syria, he however wondered that the President’s terms in office are not limited in article 77 of the constitution although  article 71 provides that the president keeps in power for only two terms.

 In confrontation of this political deterioration, Rashwan spurred the Egyptian opposition with all its political spectrums to move on two parallel axes: to disclose the ultimate target of this intrigue against the constitution to abort it and forestall the passage of this shameful and dangerous amendments, and to take a unified stand in boycotting all the future public elections either parliamentary, municipality or presidential ones if the NDP persists with this policy.

 The amendments to be made  by the government are also criticized by another  prominent researcher with al Ahram Center for Political  Studies, Dr. Amr el Shobaky, who exclusively said to Ikhwanweb that these suggested amendments will not achieve the aspired for political reform in Egypt, citing some  restrictions existing in  article 77 which leaves limitless the President’s stay in power, adding that a genuine reform in the structure of the Egyptian regime could materialize only if this article is amended.  According al Shobaky, this status quo has reflected on the entire political system, with the ministers and government officials leave their posts only when they die. However, Dr. Alshobaky sees that the limitation of the presidency in two terms in office is better than the cosmetic election by which the president keeps in power for life. Al Shobaky called for peaceful rotation of power even if within the incumbent regime, as this rotation of power could establish this principle, thus opening the door before the other parties in the future. On the frequently asked question of succession and whether it has something to do with these government suggested amendments, al Shobaky said that the scenario of succession persists regardless of any constitutional amendments, but he brings good news that the suggested amendments could allow any party represented in the parliament to field a candidate from among its members to stand for president at least to confer legitimacy on the presidential elections. For the change to materialize, al Shobaky calls on the Egyptian political forces to decide on three or four articles and dig in for changing them especially article 77 of the constitution.

On the efforts made by the Ikhwan Parliamentary Bloc in this context, Bloc deputy head Dr. Hamdy Hassan said in an exclusive statement to Ikhwanweb that the Bloc has tabled 88 visions as regards the suggested constitutional amendments, asserting that the Bloc advocates the parliamentary system. He also added that the Bloc called for amendment of some articles which, if amended, could further the authority of judiciary estate, giving a shake up to the legislative and control departments  at the People’s Assembly, and cutting down to size the authority of the President and the Executive . On rumors that the government is to launch constitutional amendments in November, which some say will further strengthen the hegemony of the Executive on the political life, including abolishing of the judiciary supervision on the election, Hassan said that the government always follows the cat and mouse policy  with the opposition and civil society forces through passing the laws it sees help strengthen its regime as is the case with the emergency law .Hassan sees the Egyptian political situation as a bleak one which goes from bad to worse. These amendments could, nay will, further the subdued anger now that all these amendments work in favor of the regime.

On the other side, we see an opposition busy with its internal conflicts,  with its prominent figures struggling for the chairmanship of their respective parties, a state of affairs which the regime has been able to use for breaking up and dividing most of the opposition parties. As regards the only well knitted organization, the Muslim Brotherhood,  the only solution adopted by the regime  is unstopping detentions and security harassments against its members and influential leaderships with the aim to weaken its physique .Will the opposition  close ranks and forget its  disputes to confront this government encroachment on the constitution ? We will wait and see.  
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