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Egypt's 2014 Constitution

  • Limits president to two four-year terms
  • President appoints prime minister
    with approval of parliament
  • President can dismiss government
    with approval of parliament
  • Defense minister must be a military officer
  • Civilians can be tried in military
    courts for certain offenses
  • Islamic law is the basis for legislation
  • Political parties cannot be based on
    religion, or have paramilitary components
Egypt's interim President Adly Mansour announced December 14, 2013 a referendum to ratify the country's new constitution. The scheduled January 14-15 vote was the first step on a roadmap back to democracy announced by the Egyptian military in July, following the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.

Egyptian officials said 16 January 2014 that preliminary results indicated voters had endorsed the nation's military-backed constitution. Final vote counts from around the country showed “yes” votes in most districts of between 90 and 98 percent. The Muslim Brotherhood's decision to boycott the referendum explained the lack of a significant “no” vote. The new constitution replaced a 2012 charter adopted during the year-long tenure of ousted Islamist President Morsi. The 2012 constitution was approved by more than 63 percent of those voting, but turnout was only 33 percent. Egyptian TV said at least half of Egypt's 51 million eligible voters turned out for the latest referendum.

Nabil Salib of Egypt's High Election Commission said 18 January 2014 that nearly 39 percent of Egypt's 53 million eligible voters cast ballots in the two-day poll, a slightly higher number than had voted in 2012. Less than 250,000 ballots were deemed invalid. The results showed 98.1 percent of valid ballots approved the new constitution, with 1.9 percent of ballots against it.

The panel of experts charged with rewriting controversial portions of Egypt's Islamist-drafted constitution met for the first time on 21 July 2013, following the ouster of the previous Islamist president who ratified the charter. The 10 judges and law professors had one month to propose constitutional amendments as part of a timetable for returning Egypt to democratic rule. Many secular and liberal Egyptians opposed the previous constitution, which was hastily approved by a drafting committee dominated by Islamists, because they said the charter left out basic clauses to protect civil rights and social justice. Opponents of the constitution led nationwide mass protests against former president Mohamed Morsi, prompting Egypt's military to oust him and install high court chief justice Adly Mansour as the country's interim leader. But Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement rejected the military's suspension of the constitution and refused to deal with the interim government until he is reinstated.

The timetable for reinstating democracy called for the 10 legal experts to he appointed to submit their constitutional amendments to a 50-member committee of politicians, trade unionists and religious figures. The larger committee would have two months to make further changes before handing the draft constitution to the president, who would have 30 days to call a referendum on the document. Egypt's interim government said it intended to hold new parliamentary and presidential elections under a revised constitution early in 2014.

By November 2013 the 50-member committee was finishing Egypt’s new constitution, the country’s fourth constitution in less than three years. The new draft, being drawn up by a group with noticeably few Islamists, promised to lift longstanding restrictions on Christian churches, but retained overall limits on religious beliefs. Few of the members raised questions about the military's attempt to put protections for itself into the new constitution. The group decided to abolish the upper house of parliament; additionally, it appeared to favor a greater division of responsibilities between the president and the prime minister.

Egypt’s electoral system is composed of a unique combination of two separate majoritarian electoral components: the first component consists of individual candidates competing for seats, while the second component consists of electoral lists competing for seats. Both political party members and independents can run under either system. Out of the 568 seats, 448 seats will be elected through individual candidates competing in majoritarian elections in single and multi-member districts. The remaining 120 seats will be elected through electoral lists competing for seats in majoritarian winner-takes-all elections in four electoral districts.

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