President Mohammed Morsi signed Egypt's new constitution (PDF) into law late Dec. 25, which was supported by over 63% of those who voted in the referendum. However, only 32.9% of Egypt's total of 52 million voters actually participated in the referendum, leading many to debate its results. Egyptian press and commentators are divided over the approval of the new constitution, with some declaring the results to be "fake", and supporters from the Muslim Brotherhood claiming it to be the valid choice of the people. Immediately after the referendum, a coalition of Egyptian rights group called for a redo of the referendum, alleging widespread irregularities.
The final draft of the constitution is backed by the Islamists and has been extremely controversial. The UN Working Group on discrimination against women has expressed grave concern over the draft constitution. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has also expressed concern at the rising death toll during the ongoing political chaos in Egypt, saying that Egypt's draft constitution presents serious problems for human rights. Pillay complained that the draft constitution was passed without the participation of Christian or liberal legislators. Pillay also said that she was concerned about the draft constitution's omission of references to international human rights treaties that Egypt ratified in the past. While Pillay commended the fact that the draft constitution imposes term limits on President Mohammed Morsi and provides some protections for freedom of expression and religion, she noted that these protections were not strong enough.
From Jurist, Dec. 5. Used with permission.
Egypt investigating former presidential candidates for treason
Egypt’s chief prosecutor on Dec. 27 ordered an investigation into allegations that opposition leaders were inciting supporters to overthrow the country’s president Mohammed Morsi, which amounts to treason. The investigations are against Mohammed El-Baradei, a Nobel Peace laureate and former head of the UN nuclear agency, former Foreign Minister Amr Mousa and Hamdeen Sabahi. The accusations were filed earlier this month by two lawyers and the order to investigate came a day after Morsi signed into law the country’s new constitution. The three individuals had created a coalition, the National Salvation Front, in an effort to protest against Morsi. Mousa and Sabahi were presidential candidates in the recent presidential election. Critics have condemned the recent investigative order, accusing Morsi of taking measures similar to ousted president Hosni Mubarak against his opponents.
From Jurist, Dec. 28. Used with permission.
Riots rock Alexandria
Scores of people battled hundreds of riot police Jan. 20 for a second day in angry protests outside a courthouse in Egypt’s northern port city of Alexandria, where polic officers are being tried for the deaths of protesters during the 2011 uprising. Police fired tear gas at rock-throwing protesters, and a police trasnport vehicle was set ablaze. Violence broke out after the presiding judge resigned from the case without explanation, which will mean a new trial for the six senior police officers. (AP, Jan. 20)
Egypt court postpones ruling on constitutional assembly
Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court on Feb. 3 postponed ruling whether the legislative constitutional assembly that just last week drafted a new charter was legitimate. The judges claimed a crowd of Islamists outside the courthouse of had intimidated the judges and blocked the entrance to the courthouse. The judges stated that they were suspending the court’s sessions until they could return to work without the threat of harm and other external pressures. However, the Islamists countered, accusing the judges of fabricating an excuse for failing to show up and claimed that the courthouse’s exterior was much quieter than the judges had presented. Hundreds of riot police officers, a fire truck and several armored personnel carriers were available to secure the judges’ entry to the courthouse, and several people were able to enter and leave the courthouse without harm.
Egypt’s Ministry of Interior had arranged to secure the entrance and protect the judges and stated that the protests were peace and some judges had arrived safely. The constitutional court has been unclear about when it might continue work or issue a decision on the legislative assembly.
From Jurist, Feb. 3. Used with permission.