Problems on hold
I carry on this week with my reading of the new Draft Constitution, shedding light on its positive aspects and pointing out why Egyptians should vote for it. Once this Constitution is passed Egypt would have taken its first step on its Roadmap to a future of democracy,
modernity and civil State; and reaped the first fruit of the 30 June Revolution. My reading last week covered the first three chapters of the Draft Constitution, which tackle the State, the Basic Components of the Society, and Rights, Freedoms and Public Duties.
• +Chapter IV – The Rule of Law+
+Article 94+: The rule of law is the basis of governance in the State. The State is subject to the law. The independence, immunity and impartiality of the judiciary are essential guarantees for the protection of rights and freedoms.
+Article 95+: Penalties are personal. Crimes and penalties are only based on the law. Penalties are only inflicted by a judicial ruling. Penalties are only inflicted for acts committed subsequent to the date on which the law is put into effect.
+Article 100+: Rulings are issued and executed in the name of the people. The State guarantees the means of executing them as regulated by the law. Refraining from executing or impeding execution of a court ruling by the public employees in charge is a crime punishable by law. The party in possession of the court order in such case files a criminal suit directly with the relevant court. Upon this party’s request, the public prosecution must raise criminal proceedings against the public employee who refrained from executing the ruling or impeded it.
• +Chapter V – The Ruling System+
+Article 117+: The House of Representatives elects, in the first meeting of its regular annual session, a speaker and two deputy speakers for the full legislative term.
In all cases, neither the speaker nor any of the two deputies may be elected for more than two consecutive legislative terms.
+Article 137+: The President of the Republic may not dissolve the House of Representatives except when necessary by a causal decision and following a public referendum. The House of Representatives may not be dissolved for the same cause for which the previous House was dissolved.
+Article 140+: The President of the Republic is elected for a period of four years on the Gregorian calendar [as opposed to the Hijri calendar which is a lunar calendar], commencing on the day following the end of the term of his predecessor. The President may only be re-elected once. The procedures for electing the President of the Republic begin at least 120 days before the end of the presidential term. The result must be announced at least 30 days before the end of term. The President of the Republic may not hold any partisan post for the duration of the presidency.
+Article 144+: The President of the Republic must take oath before the House of Representatives prior to taking office.
In case of there being no House of Representatives, the oath is taken before the General Assembly of the Supreme Constitutional Court.
+Article 146+: The President of the Republic assigns a Prime Minister to form the government and present his programme to the House of Representatives. If his government does not obtain the confidence of the majority of the House of Representatives within a maximum 30 days, the President appoints a Prime Minister according to the nomination of the party or coalition that holds the majority in the House of Representatives. If this government fails to win the confidence of the majority of the members of the House of Representatives within 30 days, the House is deemed dissolved, and the President of the Republic calls for the election of a new House of Representatives within 60 days from the date the dissolution decision is issued.
In case the government is chosen from the majority party or coalition in the House of Representatives, the President of the Republic in consultation with the Prime Minister selects the Ministers of Justice, Interior, and Defence.
+Article 151+: The President of the Republic represents the State in foreign relations and concludes treaties and ratifies them following the approval of the House of Representatives. They have the force of law after they are issued in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. Treaties of conciliation and alliance, and treaties related to sovereignty rights must be put for a public vote through referendum; and can only be ratified after publicising the result of the approval vote. In all cases, no treaty which opposes the provisions of the Constitution or which leads to concession of State territories may be concluded.
+Article 155+: The President of the Republic may issue a pardon or mitigate a sentence after consulting with the Cabinet. Amnesty may only be granted within a law ratified by the majority of members of the House of Representatives.
+Article 158+: The President of the Republic may submit his resignation to the House of Representatives. If the House is dissolved, he submits it to the General Assembly of the Supreme Constitutional Court.
+Article 159+: A charge of violating the provisions of the Constitution, high treason or any other felony against the President of the Republic is based on a motion signed by at least the majority of the members of the House of Representatives. An impeachment is issued only by a two-thirds majority of the House of Representatives and after an investigation carried out with the President by the Prosecutor General. If there is an impediment, he is replaced by one of his assistants. As soon as an impeachment decision is issued, the President of the Republic ceases all work; this is considered as a temporary impediment preventing the President from carrying out presidential duties until a verdict is reached on the case.
The law organises the investigation and trial procedures. In case he is convicted, the President of the Republic is relieved of his post, without prejudice to other penalties.
+Article 161+: The House of Representatives may propose to withdraw confidence from the President of the Republic and hold early presidential elections upon a causal motion signed by at least the majority of the members of the House of Representatives and the approval of two-thirds of its members. The motion may only be submitted once for the same cause during the presidential term. Upon the approval of the proposal to withdraw confidence, the withdrawal of confidence from the President of the Republic and holding early presidential elections is put to public referendum by the Prime Minister. If the majority approves the decision to withdraw confidence, the President of the Republic is relieved of his post, the office of the President of the Republic is deemed vacant, and early presidential elections are held within 60 days from the date the referendum results are announced. If the result of the referendum reject the move, the House of Representatives is deemed dissolved, and the President of the Republic calls for electing a new House of Representatives within 30 days of the date of dissolution.
+Article 162+: If the vacancy of the presidential office coincides with a referendum or the election of the House of Representatives the presidential elections are given priority. The existing parliament stays on until the completion of the presidential elections.
It is clear the new Constitution is detailed and lengthy. It elaborates on matters and procedures which many constitutional experts believe should be left to the law to regulate. Notwithstanding, the details specified in this constitution are a source of relief and reassurance to many Egyptians who sustain a sense of foreboding of hidden agendas, and carry a bitter experience of a previous regime and presidency whose loyalty to the country and its people came under severe suspicions.
A reading of further articles and provisions of the constitution will continue next week.
22 December 2013