The Egyptian President declared, before the new Parliamentary session, that he will lodge a bill for amending article 76 in the constitution that will place many obstacles before any one attempting to run for the presidential elections; these amendments will bar other political parties from participating in the next presidential elections scheduled 2011.
Hosni Mubarak said that the set of constitutional amendments that he will present are the broadest since 1980. He pointed that these amendments will include:"re-organizing the relations between the legislative and executive authorities in order to maintain more balance between them and enhance the role of Parliament in censorship and accountability".
He clarified that he will call for giving more power to the Prime Minister and to "increase his authorities in order to expand the extent in which the government can share the president in the the executive power". Also, he will demand amending the election system from individual election to slate system that allows a greater representation for parties and woman.
The president promised to carry out a constitutional reform to replace the current socialist frame with an economically free one, in a way that allows "the freedom of choosing the economic trend for the republic and preserve at the same time the freedom of economic activity, social justice, supporting copyrights in all its forms and protecting the labor force.
He pledged to offer a draft law for combating terrorism to replace the emergency law which has been enacted since 1981, as the opposition reportedly says that the regime is using this law in order to silence opponents. He stressed on importance of enhancing stability and avoiding any unstudied steps.
In his speech, Mubarak refuted opposition’s predictions that he may leave office before the end of the current presidential term- scheduled to end in 2011. "I will continue with you on this transition to the future, taking responsibility for it and its burdens, as long as there is a beating heart in my chest ." he said.
The opposition circulated that Mubarak (78) may resign, this year, in order to appoint his son instead. Noteworthy, Gamal Mubarak is a prominent member in the National Democratic Party.
The Parliament approved, in May 2005, amending Article 76 of the constitution to allow multiple-candidate presidential elections instead of holding a referendum on one candidate, enacted since 1952.
This amendment bars electing independents, implicitly excluding any Muslim Brotherhood candidate.
Egyptian Constitutional Amendments: More Dictatorship, Absolute Power for Egyptian President
While people are thinking that Egypt will start a real political reform, yet, matters are changing from bad to worse. Amending article 76 is a clear example to prove the intentions of the Egyptian regime that seeks more constitutional amendments in order to curb the political activities and to meet the demands of the ruling group and their absolute powers.
Accordingly, the law of the judiciary was issued to neglect the demands of judges and to prove the absolute hegemony of the executive authority over the judicial authority.
The president’s speech proved clearly this assumption; he has never referred to any debate regarding article 77 which tackles the presidential term; in addition to this, he stated that he will remain in power till the last breath.
Nowadays, Egyptians speak about new constitutional amendments which may include 30 constitutional articles, most of which- if not all- are related to the third part in the constitution regarding freedoms, rights, and the public duties.
The question is, will the opposition groups in Egypt face these constitutional amendments that threaten Egypt? Or will they fail like what happened while facing amendments of article 76 and the law of the judiciary!!!
It is a very hot game between the Egyptian regime and the opposition powers; the result is the future of the country.
Observers have no prospects for next constitutional amendments
Dr. Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh, member of the MB Executive Bureau said in a interview with Ikhwanweb, "The suggested constitutional amendments that president Mubarak spoke about in his speech, yesterday, are tailored by the new National Party group that proved that the issue of security and protecting people have no value in their eyes, pointing out that this group is stronger and more dangerous to the country than the old guard.
This group wants to draft a system to protect it after handing Egypt over to foreign powers, " Aboul-Fotouh confirmed, adding that turning a blind eye to the demands of the judges, using security to beat them, and issuing a law of jailing journalists to be worse than the current one, all these prove and confirm the above mentioned.
Aboul-Fotouh warned that the NDP group is serving a foreign agenda for the region, especially in Egypt, confirming that this is their real intentions, something he considered as swimming against the current, stressing that these plans will be foiled because the Arabs and Muslims faced them and managed to confront them.
If, Aboul-Fotouh argues, the purposes of this group are achieved, backwardness will increase in the country which will be deprived of the best of its sons when they are thrown behind bars. The Muslim Brotherhood’s attitude towards the constitutional amendments is clear and the MB parliamentarians have declared the group’s stance towards the constitutional amendments and constitutional reform, he adds.
Aboul-Fotouh said that the President should discuss amending Article 77 if he actually seeks political reforms; however, "not speaking about amending it confirms the reports that the coming constitutional amendments are dedicated to serve the National Party and to reinforce the domination of the ruling regime" according to him .
Aboul-Fotouh expressed his doubts regarding the coming constitutional amendments amid the ambiguity shrouding them and not discussing them or seeking viewpoints of the political powers and civil society institutions.
Dr. Diaa Rashwan, the political researcher at Al-Ahram Center for Studies, told Ikhwanweb, "all signs indicate that the National Party can not keep its promises of maintaining more political reform."
Rashwan pointed that there are many indications that the National Party can not fulfill its pledge to what Egyptians thought to be a beginning of reform; also, it wants to monopolize the future inside the country and extinguish all hopes for reform; these indications include issuing the law of the judiciary, the complaints lodged to parliament regarding laws against freedom, crimes of publishing in addition to the political and security repressive measures adopted by the government during the last sixth months towards judges and opposition powers.
Rashwan confirmed that the future is at risk due to the next constitutional amendments that the ruling party will propound before parliament; all leaked news indicate that the party wants to demolish the few rights that Egyptians managed to obtain. Articles in the third section of the consititution regarding freedoms, rights, and public duties appear to be the first victim of the constitutional amendments concocted by the National Democratic Party. The first of these two victims will be articles 41 and 42, that provide the necessary guarantees for protecting citizens from the arbitarary restrictions on freedom.
Also there are some articles in the fourth section related to the rule of law; they are seemingly at risk due to what the ruling party is doing regaring deforming the constitution, specially article 71, which gives the right to any detainee to immediately know the reasons for his arrest, and that he has the right to communicate and then seek the help of any one(s) whom he wants to notify, and it gives also the right to sue before justice against the measure restricting his freedom. There are many articles other than those articles– considered " the best constitutional articles-which the ruling party is trying to extirpate from the heart of the constitution; also, there many other articles related to key rights of the Egyptians and their private and public freedoms are prone to extirpation as well.
Rashwan pointed out the limits in this " constitutional leap" and extinguishing all hopes of reform and change in the future; but that the National Party and its pro-government want to cancel the judicial supervision on the parliamentary elections as mentioned in article 88 of the current constitution; in order to pave the way for the security services and the administration to run them and other various general elections in a way satisfying the ruling party and in a way that addresses its interests in addition to getting rid of the fairness of judges and their insistence on carrying out their constitutional duty in accordance with the dignity of their high post and the interests of the country.
The manipulation in the country’s political and electoral future will reach unpresedented and dangerous level; it will continue to include amendments to the electoral system in a new article in the constitution; the ruling party heads towards approving a slate system to address its interests alone, and to exclude " non-partisan powers from the right of nomination, including the independent MPs in the current People’s Assembly- before including many of them in the National Party – about 65%; and they represented more than 85% of the candidates in the elections of this Assembly.
There are many other barefaced examples that prove the plans concocted by the National Party and its government through the constitutional amendments, there are more than 20 articles ready to be extirpated by the hands of the "reformists" of the party and the "old guard" of it in the next constitutional massacre that seems to shut all doors before reformation or change in the country.
Rashwan was amazed that article 77 of constitution that tackles the presidential term; there was no intentions to change it although it was stated in the constitution of 71 and stated on two terms for the president of the republic, also the ruling party alleged that the French and the American constitutions do not state a specific term for the president of the republic, yet the fact there are political customs that do exist in these countries where the president does not spend more than two terms.
Rashwan confirmed that the Egyptian opposition groups from all parties are required today under this sudden danger that threatens the homeland future and threatens them to move as quick as possible on two parallel levels .The first level is related to the insistence on the disclosure of a truth of this "the conspiracy" - and stress on using this the term which implicates extreme realism and scientific accuracy – that is concocted by the ruling party against the constitution, and to seek all possible ways for aborting it and the prevent these shameful amendments from being endorsed.
As for the second level, all opposing powers should take a unified decision- from today- to boycott all coming general elections- the parliamentary, presidential or municipal elections- in case the National Party and its government insisted on continuing to implement their "constitutional massacre", in order to leave this ruling part stand alone and naked on public inside the country and outside, so that the opposing powers be pure handed in the crime of assassinating the future of the country.
Dr. Amr Al-Shoubki, the researcher at Al-Ahram Center for political studies said in an interview with Ikhwan web that the suggested constitutional amendments did not meet the required amendments in order to further the process of political reform in Egypt because there are many obstacles; the most prominent of which is article 77 that does not specify the presidential term. This is one of the most important articles that need to be amended in order to say that there is a real change in the political regime of Egypt.
Al Shobaki pointed out that the policy that the president rules till the last breath of his life has its negative effects on the political, vocational and administrative regimes in Egypt, actually we can find that all officials do not leave their positions except when they die; what is required is to set a limited term to remain in office for this Pharaonic post of the president that is not prone to any change.
Al Shobki explained that, from his point of view, maintaining the referendum system on the president’s remaining in his post for two terms is better than voting for a presidential election-where all of us know that there are a lot of violations in these elections; it is better to make a referendum on the term of the president.
Al Shobki asserted that what was said that the current regime wants to keep article 77 of the constitution reflects the state of stagnancy that the Egyptian regime is suffering from in the last period; this is because it spent 25 years ruling the country. The core of all political crises in Egypt is that there is no circulation for power even inside the regime itself, we do not have any objection for change inside the current regime but there should be a circulation for power and this will provide the culture of peaceful circulation in future.
Dr.Hamdi Hassan, spokesman of the MB parliamentary bloc, said in an interview to Ikhwanweb " MB parliamentarians have submitted 88 proposals for constitutional amendments, asserting that they adopt the parliamentary prosecution system and appeal for amending articles that give more power to the judicial authority, increase the legislative and supervision sides, in addition to reducing the powers given to the president and the executive authority.
Regarding what people say that these amendments will increase the hegemony of the executive power in Egypt especially what is related to canceling the judicial supervision over the elections, Hassan said, "This is the custom of the government when it deals with opposition and the powers of the civil society as if they are Tom and Jerry, because the government always surprises people with resolutions and amendments before propounding them before the parliamentary members in order to study it, endorse it through the consensus of "false" majority at least like what happened in the case of the Emergency laws.
Hassan asserted that the Egyptian political status seems unpromising because the Egyptian political life is moving from bad to worse because there are no prospects that may prove that the government has the intention to hold out a full reform in the Egyptian society or even keep the promises of President Mubarak who pledged to do in his electoral campaign; the Egyptian political arena is passing a state of stagnancy.
The Egyptian political arena is suffering from many crises the least of which what was mentioned in the writings of many prominent writers like Fahmi Huwaidi, Salama Ahmad Salam, Tariq Al-Bishri and many others who depicted the real status of Egypt especially after the latest developments afflicting the political system and the failure to carry out any change.
Perhaps –if not certainly- the suggested constitutional amendments will increase the state of stagnancy especially due to many arguments which believe that these amendments will meet the demands of the Egyptians regime and its ability to continue despite the senility which it is suffering from.
On the other hand, we can find that the Egyptian opposition is suffering from a state of unconsciousness because most of the parties are passing internal disputes over the leadership of these parties; in addition to this, the Egyptian regime succeeded in dismantling these parties from within.
The only regime that still stands as a consistent group is the Muslim Brotherhood; yet, the Egyptian regime is trying to demolish it through detainment and security measures in order to weaken them because it is the only organization that can face the governmental hegemony, the question is will they maintain their challenge?
All Egyptian political powers must unite in one front and abandon their intellectual and political disputes to face these governmental attacks perpetrated against the constitution. Will these opposition powers unite or they will be engaged in their partisan clashes and turn a blind eye to the big crisis which may be related to the future of Egypt!!!
All these questions will be replied in the next parliamentary session.