Hossam Ghariani: Constituent Assembly and New Constitution Statistics Speak for Themselves
Justice Hossam Ghariani, Chairman of the Constituent Assembly (CA) tasked with drawing up Egypt’s new constitution, affirmed that the CA did its utmost to produce a constitution befitting post-revolution Egypt.
"The CA’s various committees toured governorates across Egypt, and listened to views of thousands of people, through the Committee for Community Dialogue. We received more than 35,000 messages, with some proposing one new article or several, and some providing a fully written constitution.
"We also received – through the CA’s official website – views, comments and proposals in excess of one million. The CA read and passed all those over to specialized committees so people’s suggestions can be taken into account.
"The CA held 79 plenary sessions that lasted a total of 240 work-hours, all heard and seen by people through various media outlets. CA committees also held 408 sessions that took a total of 1622 hours. Tours of the Committee for Community Dialogue alone included 160 sessions in all provinces."
Ghariani further said, "In their first session, CA members agreed on two primary principles as a basis for their work. The first was to take off all partisan glasses and political hats. The second was to write into the Constitution what they agree upon and leave what they differ about. Then, indeed, there were things over which we had significant differences, and so we left them out. But, of course, there were things we agreed upon, and so we wrote them into the new constitution.
"The CA hired experts in all fields, as well as highly specialized professionals from the Shura (consultative) Council."
Ghariani pointed that the Constitution comprises five chapters. The first covers basic elements of society. It upheld values of democracy, Shura, citizenship, religious sanctities and cultural heritage. It reaffirmed complete equality between citizens, the sovereignty of the people, and the independence of the judiciary.
The second chapter of the Constitution covered rights, duties and public freedoms, and provided guarantees that protected them. It also mentioned rights and freedoms that had never been in any previous constitution – like the rights of women, children, farmers, workers, the elderly, the disabled and those who died or were wounded in the revolution and their families, the right of access to information and documents, the right of peaceful assembly and freedom of opinion and creativity, as well as the right to form political parties and associations and the rights of Egyptians abroad.
The third chapter organized public authorities in a new way that prevents tyranny and creates balance between the authorities. It ensures the independence of judges, lawyers and experts, and regulates the armed forces, the police and military judiciary. It prohibits the trial of civilians before military courts, except in most exceptional cases.
The fourth chapter introduced independent boards and regulatory bodies indispensable to organizing the work of the authorities and regulating the work of bodies and how they carry out their duties.
The fifth chapter deals with general and transitional provisions.