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Egypt’s Constitutional Panel Holds Final Meeting

Egypt's Constitutional Panel Holds Final Meeting

Cairo – A panel that amended a constitution drafted under now-ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi held a final meeting on Monday ahead of handing over the document to Egypt’s interim president, who will set a date for a nationwide vote to ratify it. Adoption of the new charter will be a giant step in the implementation of the roadmap announced by the nation’s military chief when he toppled Morsi in a July 3 coup. The next steps will be parliamentary and presidential elections in the spring and summer of 2014.

The last constitution was ratified by about 64 percent, but with a lowly turnout rate of a little more than 30 percent. Approval by a higher percentage and a strong turnout will constitute a vote of confidence in the roadmap.

The panel, appointed by the military-backed interim president Adly Mansour, is dominated by secular-leaning figures. But it includes several Islamists, including one from an ultraconservative party, and representatives from Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam’s foremost seat of learning, and Christian churches. Activists from Tamarod, a youth movement that rallied millions of Egyptians demanding that Morsi step down ahead of the July coup, also sat on the 50-member panel.

The panel held its final deliberations in private but the voting on Saturday and Sunday was televised live. An upbeat mood prevailed in Monday’s meeting, with members of the panel picked by the military-backed government praising the document as historic and a reflection of Egyptians’ hopes.

“It is now the right of every Egyptian to declare that this is their constitution,” said Anba Paula, the representative of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Egypt’s largest. Another member, veteran lawyer and head of the Bar Association Sameh Ashour said: “This constitution may not reflect the expectations of all Egyptians, but it is a safety valve for the revolution at this transitional phase.” (AP)

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