Egypt MPs Battle Constitution Changes

Egyptian independent and opposition members of parliaments have formed a unified front to counter constitutional amendments the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) is trying to push through the legislature.

Egypt MPs Battle Constitution Changes

"We have put forward our own redrafts of theamendments worded by the NDP," Saad el-Katatni, the head of the MuslimBrotherhood's parliamentary bloc, told on Tuesday, March 13.

He predicted that the NDP's proposals would berubber-stamped in the NDP-dominated People's Assembly - the lower house ofparliament - next week.

Brotherhood's 88-strong parliamentary bloc, 15independents and MPs representing the opposition Al-Wafd, Al-Karama andAl-Tagamu parties formed a united front Monday, March 12, to rally against theproposed constitutional amendments.

The NDP has come up with amendments to 34 articlesof the Constitution, mostly blasted by the opposition as cosmetic.

The ruling party wants to amend article 88 to set upa higher committee of "prominent public figures" to supervise futureelections.

The opposition insists the suggestion is a ruse tosideline the judiciary, especially after fierce criticism from several judgesthat the 2005 legislative polls were rigged in favor of the NDP's candidates.

The NDP also wants to replace the notoriousEmergency Law with a new anti-terror law that, according to the opposition,would give police free rein in arresting people and encroaching upon personalprivacies by allowing home raids and stop-and-search practices without courtpermits.

"These proposed amendments are a crime and onlyserve the interests of the NDP," Katatni charged, predicting morecrackdowns on his group to quell its opposition to the constitutional changes.

In nationwide raids, police detained on Tuesday upto 35 members of the group, including senior figures.

Despite being officially outlawed, the popularmovement managed to secure a fifth of parliamentary seats in the lastelections, becoming the biggest opposition force in the country.

Public Boycott

Gamal Zahran, the spokesman of the 15-memberindependent parliamentary bloc, said the amendments reflected a self-centeredNDP.

"The NDP insists on monopolizing the politicalprocess in Egypt,"he told a press conference marking the launch of the new front.

Zahran accused the ruling party of disregarding theinterests of other parties and factions.

The NDP has been under fire recently for failing tointroduce much-hoped political and economic reforms promised by President HosniMubarak, the party's leader, after his reelection for a fifth term in office in2005.

Representatives of the new opposition bloc haveurged the Egyptian people to boycott an expected referendum to be called byparliament next month.

"We will resort to the public to give theirfinal say on the proposed constitutional amendments," said Al-Wafd leaderMahmoud Abaza.

"The proposed text ... opens the path to apolice state," he insisted.

"The regime has proved incapable of introducinggenuine reforms; therefore, we will urge the Egyptian people to reject theseamendments in a public referendum due to be held in mid April."

The opposition MPs have decided to boycottparliamentary debates of the amendments, and stage a symbolic sit-in in frontof parliament in protest.

Hamdeen Sabbahi, the leader of the Al-Karama party,called on MPs to join rallies outside the People's Assembly on March 19-20, thedates set for the final debates of the amendments.

"We want to pressurize the government until itback downs on these amendments."


Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16