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Critics Slam Egypt Military Rulers for New Proposal
04/11/2011 16:21:00
There is a new public outcry against Egypt's military rulers that has been triggered with a proposal that critics see as an attempt to enshrine a supreme political role for themselves in the new constitution.

The furore is over a new government-sponsored proposal of overarching principles that would guide the drafting of a new constitution, AP reports. The proposal only requires adoption by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to make it binding.

If approved, the measure would shield the military from parliamentary oversight, give it a veto over legislation dealing with its affairs and reduce the powers of parliament to select a panel to write the constitution.

The proposal also would declare the armed forces the protector of "constitutional legitimacy", wording that is widely interpreted to mean giving the military final say over major policies.

Egypt's best known reform proponent, Mohamed ElBaradei is reported by AP describing the document as "distorted" and demanded its withdrawal, saying there there is a difference between a civilian democratic state that guarantees man's basic rights and military guardianship.

Leading the opposition to the document is reported to be the Islamic fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, the country's largest and most powerful political group. It siad the document "raped people's will".

The Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice party spokesperson, Saad el-Katatni said: "This route goes against the will of the people, and will lead to another revolution.” He also called on the Egyptian people to reject the document to protect their rights.

The uproar over the draft has deepened tension between political activists and rights groups and the military ahead of this month's key parliamentary elections.

It follows the arrest earlier this week by the military of one of Alaa Abdel-Fattah, Egypt's best known bloggers and activists for his alleged role in sectarian clashes on October 9 in which 27 people, mostly Christians, were killed and hundreds wounded.

The October 9 violence was the worst since Mubarak's ouster and the controversy over who to blame for the bloodshed has signalled a new low in relations between the military and activists, who blame troops for starting the violence and army vehicles of running over protesters.

The military denies the charge, insisting that troops deployed to deal with a Christian protest on the day had no ammunition or firearms.

A report Wednesday by the state National Council for Human Rights confirmed earlier witness and hospital reports that 12 of those killed in the October 9 clashes were run over by army vehicles and that troops fired blanks at the protesters.

The report blames a group of unidentified civilians for the shooting death of protesters and soldiers at the scene and called for a criminal probe into the coverage of the incident by state television.

The constitutional proposal, meanwhile, is widely thought to have been drafted at the behest of the military, which has dominated Egypt since officers seized power in a 1952 coup.

Many activists see the document as an attempt by the military to retain power after parliamentary and presidential elections are held, initially slated for late next year or early in 2013.

The proposal says 80 of the 100-member panel to be mandated to write the new constitution will not be members of parliament's two chambers and will instead be drawn from a wide range of institutions, including the judiciary, universities and civil society groups with the rest comingfrom political groups represented in parliament's two chambers.

It gives the military the right to veto the draft constitution if it contravenes the guidelines set in Deputy Prime Minister Ali al-Salmy's proposal.

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