Thursday, March 18, 2010

Egyptian calls for a democratic constitution

The little dog is an islamist one, but under the circumstances it could as well be an oppostional doggy.(From exhibition 'Cartoons for Peace'  at French Cultural Centre, East Jerusalem).

Egyptian opposition groups and political parties are pressing the government for amendments that would end the single-party ruling in the country. In a statement published on Tuesday, the opposition movement called on the government to scrap the Constitution if necessary in an effort to promote egalitarianism in the political sphere.
The group has also called on laws that restrict freedoms to be revoked, along with the state of emergency that has been maintaind since 1981 and gives the government wide-ranging powers. 'Because of a lack of democracy and mono-rule, Egyptians’ lives are getting worse with the collapse of public services, spread of poverty, unemployment and corruption,' the statement read in highlights published by the country’s leading opposition group the Muslim Brotherhood.

The statement was issued by the Democratic Front Party, the Nasserite Party, the Wafd Party and the Tagamma’a Party, which together hold some 10 seats of Parliament’s 454 total. The Brotherhood, which has 88 seats, did not join the three days of meetings, though it added that it also calls for similar political changes.
The parties called for parliamentary system in which the president acts as a judge between the legislative and executive authorities and has no political party affiliation.
The call from the opposition parties came a few days after the law committee of the Supreme Council for Culture held a seminar under the title The Constitution and the Political Future of Egypt', at Cairo University's law faculty with the participation of a considerable number of legal experts and political scientists. The discussions revealedthat they shared a consensus on the following two points:
1) The current regime and Constitution are defective beyond repair, therefore an alternative political system and new constitution are needed.
2) The alternative political system must be fully democratic, approved by parties across the political spectrum, and must establish a modern civil state based on the principles of citizenship and equality. The new regime must also allow the maximum possible level of political participation and have clear mechanisms to ensure the devolution of power, transparency, and accountability.
The debates showed that the problem isn't the formulation of a new constitution, but rather which political and procedural process will determine who has the power to endorse a final version of the constitution before calling for a popular referendum.
The calls are another sign that Egyptians are for the most part fed up with the political system and with president Mubarak, who leads the ruling National Democratic Party, and who has been in power since 1981. The presidnet who is 81 has has not said if he will run in the next presidential election in 2011. It is widely believed he is grooming his son Gamal for the presidency.

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