Egypt: With it or not

Published on Al-Ahram weekly online, by Mohamed Abdel-Baky, Dec 10, 2013.

During a rally held in Minya governorate, Nour Youssef, a member of the Social Democratic Party, urged his village to vote “yes” on the draft constitution.

The crowds shouted, “viva Egypt, bread, freedom and social justice”, repeating the 25 January 25 Revolution slogan.  

A few blocks from the rally, there was a protest by the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted president Mohamed Morsi supporters “No to the new constitution, Morsi is still our president,” they chanted.

The twin scenes will be dominating the political landscape in the weeks ahead and is reflecting the current troubled transitional period.

Campaigns kicked off by political forces last week after the head of the Committee of Fifty Amr Moussa submitted the draft constitution to interim President Adli Mansour.

The committee concluded the final voting on the draft constitution, after approving 245 articles, most of them by consensus. However, the committee left the decision on articles of the electoral system and House of Representatives to be made by Mansour, currently assuming a legislative role until the election of a new parliament.

Political groups had a busy week, with each one holding a press conference to announce positions towards the new constitution and to decide on mobilisation plans.
Posters are being printed to inform citizens about social and economic rights to facilitate an understanding of the new constitution.

Moussa called on Egyptians to take part in the referendum on the constitution and vote “yes”, saying “Egypt faces the danger of strife”.

Moussa told Al-Ahram, “it’s in Egyptian interests that we demand from everyone to take part in the referendum and vote ‘yes’. There is strife in Egypt. There should be an end to it to get out of the dangerous situation we have been through, and passing the constitution is the key answer.”

The breaking news was on Thursday when the Salafist Nour Party announced that the party supports the new draft of the constitution and will vote for it.

In a press conference the Nour Chairman Younis Makhyoun, said the country is passing through a tough time, and the party will choose “stability over chaos”, and will vote for the constitution.

Later the party spokesman Nader Baker said the party had established a committee that will be responsible for launching a campaign that aims to mobilise voters in favour of the newly drafted constitution.

“We will not use religious propaganda or attempt to influence voters religiously through our campaign. We are not a religious-based party, although we refer to Islam and Sharia as a higher reference in the constitution,” he said.

He added that the Nour endorsed the draft constitution because it “preserves the Islamic identity of Egypt”.

The majority of the liberal parties announced their participation in the referendum and urged support in favour of the constitution.

The National Salvation Front (NSF) — an umbrella of secular political parties that helped to topple Morsi — announced that it supports the draft constitution and that its member will vote in favour of it.

“We will launch a campaign next week that mobilises all Egyptians to vote for this constitution,” said Fouad Badri, a member in the NSF. “Passing this constitution is the first and most important step to realise the roadmap.”

NSF member Wahid Abdel-Meguid said, “the front’s campaign includes holding conferences on several levels as well as knocking on doors to inform people about the new constitution and explain its advantages from the front’s perspective.”

“The front will call on citizens to read the new draft constitution and participate in the referendum even if they disagree with it,” he added.

The leftist Tagammu Party spokesman Nabil Zaki said the party started to print posters “to express a simple and brief message to citizens, to introduce the constitution and raise their awareness about principals like citizenship, transparency and governorace”.

Zaki added that the party will participate in all NSF activities that supports the constitution.

Mahmoud Al-Alaili, deputy chairman of the Free Egyptians Party supreme body, said the front leaders “have collectively announced through their parties their support for the yes vote considering that the success in rallying means the success of the constitution itself.”

Most of the socialist parties announced they will campaign for the referendum. The head of the Popular Socialist Alliance Abdel-Ghaffar Shoukr said that the new constitution “suits the new Egypt, and the dispute over an article or two does not harm the constitution as a whole”. He described it as “one of the best Egyptian constitutions in history”.

Shoukr added that the alliance plans to coordinate with other parties and political forces to call on citizens to vote for the constitution in a campaign that stretches across the country … //

… (full text).


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