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Constitution articles could be altered after voting lawsuit claims - Daily News Egypt

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Constitution articles could be altered after voting lawsuit claims

Lawsuit questions legitimacy of referendum given absence of clear final constitutional draft

Former presidential candidate Khaled Ali filed a lawsuit Sunday demanding the constitutional referendum be halted.

The final draft of the constitution was neither printed in the official gazette nor included in the ballots. Accordingly, the lawsuit argues, the public doesn’t know what they are voting on.

The lawsuit said if the constitution passes, it could be easily altered given that it hasn’t been officially documented.

“The Constituent Assembly presented a number of drafts before producing the final one,” Ali said. “Even when the final draft was submitted to the president, some Freedom and Justice Party [FJP] members claimed that tainted copies are being distributed to make the people reject the draft.”

“When I saw the form of the ballot with the draft missing from it, I was shocked.” He then refused to vote on the referendum and filed a complaint instead.

Printing a draft of the constitution was unnecessary, Ali said, as long as the full draft was attached with the voting ballot. Such was the case with the March 2011 referendum on constitutional amendments.

Ali said he had confirmed that the draft constitution was not printed in the official gazette.

“This has transformed from a referendum on constitutional articles to a referendum on identity and political affiliations,” Ali said.

The suit was filed in the administrative courts, where Ali hoped a swift decision might be able to halt the referendum. “I expect the session to take place this Tuesday,” Ali said.

Freedom and Justice Party legal adviser Mokhtar Al-Ashry denied any legal basis to Ali’s complaint.

Al-Ashry said all Egyptians had had the chance to read the “genuine” draft of the constitution currently up to referendum.

“Al-Ahram distributed over five million copies of the constitution,” Al-Ashry claimed. “The Constituent Assembly distributed another five million copies. That is beside the dozens of websites upon which the draft was uploaded, and the different TV channels which reviewed it.”

Al-Ashry said Ali’s suit was a final attempt to “stall stability” by any means possible.

“I would have rather Ali exerted more effort into rallying people to express his personal opinion instead of using the judiciary to stall the democratic path,” Al-Ashry said, warning against involving the judiciary in political matters.

The first round of the referendum on the constitution started Saturday in 10 governorates. Numerous violations were reported by NGOs observing the referendum as well as by voters. The remaining 17 governorates will vote on the constitution next Saturday.

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