Egypt’s constitutional midnight

(Le Monde diplomatique) --
By Nizar Manek, 19 December 2013
Egypt heads to its constitutional midnight moment without its draft constitution being the supreme law of the land. After the 2012 constitution under the deposed President Mohamed Morsi was suspended, a 50-member panel entrusted with drafting the new document approved it on 1 December. A simple majority referendum has been put forward for 14 and 15 January. After a hasty two months of drafting, neither the military, legislature, judiciary, nor the president are bound by the constitution. And yet Amr Moussa, chairman of the outgoing 50-member drafting committee and a long time foreign minister and secretary-general of the Arab League, has predicted the referendum would pass with a 70 percent “yes” vote.
Moussa is most likely right. A momentum towards a “yes” has taken root: the majority of Egypt’s political groupings and parties who want to participate in the upcoming elections are pushing in that direction. Those who choose to vote “yes” would take a leap of faith in a new order where so much is left to laws to be decided by an as yet non-existent legislative body, the House of Representatives. Legislation dominated by the executive would decide over so much detail that Egypt would end up with a system that is “close to parliamentary dash executive supremacy,” says Professor Jörg Fedtke of Tulane University Law School, New Orleans, who recently advised the Tunisian government on the human rights aspects of its constitutional process. “That is not a good recipe.”
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