Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Egyptian pro-democracy forces call for rejection of proposed constitutonial reforms

Shady al-Ghazali Hardb
The young militants who spearheaded Egypt's pro-democracy revolution called Monday for a ´no´ vote in next weekend's referendum on constitutional reform´. We have decided on our position, we are saying 'go and vote but say no', said Shadi al-Ghazali Harb, a member of the youth coalition which helped to overthrow president Hosni Mubarak last month. ´We want a new constitution and an extension of the transitional period with the formation of a presidential council,´ he told AFP.
The changes to be voted on in Saturday's referendum include limiting presidential terms, easing restrictions on presidential candidates and bolstering judicial supervision of elections .
Egyptians will also vote on removing the president's right to order a military trial for civilians.
Others who have called for  the referendum to be postponed or cancelled, include presidential candidates Amr Moussa, head of the Arab League, and Mohamed ElBaradei, former chief of the UN nuclear watchdog, who say it is not enough merely to fiddle with the constitution. Also the lkeftist Tagammu Party has called on voters to rejects the amandments.  The former ruling National Democratic Party and the Muslim Brotherhood have called for a "yes" vote on Saturday.
The Muslim Brotherhood is about to launch its political party, the ´Freedom and Justice Party´. Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Mohamed Morsi said the group is pushing for a civil state, without the tutelage of the clergy. Morsi said the group does not call for a religious state. During an interview on state-owned television on Sunday night, Morsi said, "The civil state sought by Islam and the MB would ensure equal rights for Copts. However, within the MB there are different opinions about whether women and Coptscan stand for president. Saad al-Husseini, a member of MB's Guidance Bureau, the highest executive authority within the group, said that the new party will stoick to the opinion that women and Copts are not suitable to become president, but that the aprty will respect the opinion of others as far as this is concerned. The program of the party will be announced late March after it is approved by the MB’s Guidance Office and Shura Council. Al-Husseini said.

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