By Ali Al-Bassam
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East
CAIRO, Egypt — On a late Tuesday evening, President Mohamed Morsi signed into law a new constitution, which was approved by a referendum monitored by the media, judges, and non-governmental organizations just hours earlier.
The constitution itself was criticized by opponents of Morsi for what was within its provisions and the ratification process it followed. Some say that it sacrifices individual and minority rights for the sake of ensuring power for the religious and military establishments. Others criticized the constitution and its passing through a series of unilateral moves that silenced the dissent within both the judiciary and Constitutional Assembly.
A spokesman for the main opposition group, the National Salvation Front (NSF), said that they will still continue with their protests, and will hold one in Tahrir Square and elsewhere in Egypt on January 25, the second anniversary of Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow.
The NSF alleged that there were a few incidents of fraud during the vote, but Judge Samir Abou el-Maati, head of the electoral commission, denied the allegations, saying that the judicial supervision involved with the referendum successfully prevented the occurrence of fraud.
Despite the criticism, the final draft of the constitution passed with the support of just over ten million of Egypt’s 85 million citizens, supporting it during two rounds of votes. Out of the 33% of citizens who came to the polls, 65% of voters approved of the final draft.
On Wednesday, Morsi addressed the nation to show his support for the constitution’s passing, emphasizing that the powers granted by the document is for the sake of maintaining a democracy and not a dictatorship. “Today we celebrate our new constitution. It is a historic day. Egypt has a free constitution chosen chosen by the people. It is not a grant from a king or an obligation from a president or dictation from an occupier,” said Morsi.
In his speech, Morsi stressed his focus on the economy, saying that the passing of the constitution will bring security and stability for the people. “I will deploy all my efforts to boost the Egyptian economy, which faces enormous challenges but has also big opportunities for growth…”
Morsi also promoted the opportunity of working together with his criticizers, yet condemned those who responded with violence. Morsi also promised Egyptians to relinquish the powers he granted himself once a national charter was passed.
In response to Morsi’s Wednesday address, NSF spokesman Hussein Abdel Ghani accused the government of trying to create an “autocratic tyranny in the name of religion,” and that the dialogue “lacked serious business.”
For further information, please see:
Al Bawaba — Morsi Addresses the Nation, Says Talking is the Answer — 26 December 2012
Al Jazeera — Egypt’s Morsi Signs Draft Charter Into Law — 26 December 2012
BBC News — Egypt’s President Morsi Hails Constitution and Urges Dialogue — 26 December 2012
Daily News Egypt — Morsy Addresses Nation After Passing new Constitution — 26 December 2012