Morsi's opponents cry foul as Egypt's constitution is passed

Nov 30, 2012

Tensions in Cairo inflamed after a controversial new constitution is approved in 'rushed' vote

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ALLIES of Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi have shored up his grip on power by ramming through a new national constitution before his enemies in the judiciary could dissolve the assembly that drafted it.

Tensions between the President and his opponents were inflamed again today when a marathon meeting of the Islamist-dominated constituent assembly voted through the document to "pre-empt a probable ruling by the Supreme Constitutional Court on Sunday that the assembly was illegitimate and should be dissolved", says The Times.

Morsi is expected to ratify the draft constitution by Saturday, allowing it to be put to a referendum as soon as mid-December.

Last week, Morsi was branded a "new pharaoh" when he granted himself "dictatorial powers" and ruled the judiciary could not rule on the legality of the assembly. The Supreme Constitutional Court ignored that edict.

The 16-hour vote that passed the draft consititution was taken by 85 members, none of whom were liberals or Christians. Civil rights experts fear the constitution, which includes a measure that will keep sharia law as the nation's main source of legislation, could bring restrictions on freedom of speech, women's rights and other liberties, says The Daily Telegraph.

The document also "protects army privileges that revolutionary forces want rescinded, including the ability to try civilians in military courts", says The Guardian.

Analysts said the rushed passing of the constitution would simply stoke the fury of Morsi's opponents and deepen the crisis gripping the country.

"The Muslim Brotherhood can succeed in passing this constitution despite the opposition but in so doing they are likely to poison the country's political atmosphere for years to come and my assumption is that the constitution, if passed, will not survive beyond Brotherhood rule," Elijah Zarwan, a Cairo-based fellow at the European Council for Foreign Relations told The Guardian.

Mohammed ElBaradei, a high-profile opposition leader, said the new constitution "will be part of political folklore and will go to the garbage bin of history".

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