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Carnegie: Egypt’s Draft Constitution Rewards the Military and Judiciary

Authors: Nathan J. Brown, and Michele Dunne, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
December 4, 2013


"Egyptian voters might well be asked to approve the new constitution without knowing much about when their new president and parliament will be elected or what sort of system will govern the parliament. They may not know whether the defense minister who ousted Morsi will run for president or whether a malleable civilian will be put forward for the job. They may not even know whether the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party will be dissolved and therefore banned from running for seats in parliament. All these are salient points, because the vote in January will be more a popular referendum on the July 2013 coup than one on the draft constitution itself, which few are likely to read."

The draft constitution submitted to Egypt's interim president, Adly Mansour, on December 2 settles a few important matters—it enhances the status of the state institutions that banded together against the Muslim Brotherhood, including the military, judiciary, and police. But it leaves other equally important questions unanswered. The sequencing, system, and timing for presidential and parliamentary elections remain unclear, for example, issues that are particularly fraught because Defense Minister Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who removed Mohamed Morsi from power in July, might run for president.

The new constitution offers better human rights protections than the 2012 version forced through by the then president, Morsi. Yet it also continues a pattern of leaving much up to the vagaries of implementing legislation. And that legislation may be written—and implemented—in an atmosphere of government and public indifference, even hostility, to human rights concerns.

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