Egypt cabinet revises constitution proposal on army


The Egyptian cabinet, reacting to a public outcry, has amended a document proposing principles for a new constitution that would have shielded the army from oversight by parliament, a cabinet minister said.

The document initially gave the ruling military council exclusive authority to approve any legislation on the army’s internal affairs, Tourism Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour told a news conference.
“We took into consideration many of the remarks that we received and we corrected, deleted and added many articles,” Nour said. “There were clear notes on Article Nine and Ten and they were amended in a way that responds to the demands of the objectors,” he added.

Another change proposed by the cabinet was that the military budget be put under the control of a body supervised by the president, he said, Reuters reports.

Islamist and liberal parties walked out of a meeting with the government Tuesday in protest against the document, saying it allowed the army to defy an elected government.

The military council took power after President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown by a popular revolt on February 11. Military men have ruled Egypt since a 1952 military coup and control a large swathe of the economy.

Official campaigning began Wednesday for parliamentary elections whose winner will have a key role in drafting a new constitution, with Islamists, liberals and the army vying for votes in a poll marking the end of decades of strongman rule.

The Muslim Brotherhood, one of Egypt’s most influential political groups, has demanded that the government resign if it tries to set specific rules for the constitution.

Deputy Prime Minister Ali al-Silmi said Thursday that the bill was an “advisory” document for the new constituent assembly that would draft a new constitution.
“No single group can usurp the popular will for itself, we are seeking consensus without monopolising authority … no single group should control the path of democracy in Egypt,” he said.

Staggered parliamentary elections start on November 28 and last until March. The military has promised to hand power to elected civilians but many Egyptians suspect it will try to keep a grip on the levers of power after a new president is elected.