The 50-member Constituent Assembly tasked with amending the 2012 constitution finished its final vote on the constitution on Sunday evening, pending four contentious articles which did not pass.
The assembly started its final vote on the constitution on Saturday, passing 138 articles out of a total of 247.
The two articles governing the coming parliamentary elections did not get the approval of 75% of the Constituent Assembly. Article 229 states that the coming parliamentary elections will follow a system that combines electoral lists with individual candidates; two thirds of each electoral district will be elected from individual candidates while the remaining third will be elected from electoral lists. Only 27 of the 49 members who attended Sunday’s session voted ‘yes’ on the article.
Article 230 states that the coming parliamentary elections should take place within a period between 30 to 90 days after the constitution passes. It adds that the first parliamentary session should take place within 10 days of the results of the elections being announced. The article was only supported by 12 members; 33 members voted against it.
The Constituent Assembly also failed to pass the articles which address farmers and labourers’ representation in parliament. The assembly cancelled the 50% parliamentary quota allocated to farmers and labourers since the era of late President Gamal Abdel Nasser in the 1960s, garnering wide criticism from labour unions.
The Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF) assembly representative Abdel Fatah Ibrahim announced his withdrawal from the assembly as a response to the cancellation of the quota. Mostafa Rostum, head of the ETUF’s International Relations Administration, confirmed that Ibrahim did not attend Saturday’s or Sunday’s voting sessions.
“We reject cancelling the farmers and labourers’ parliamentary quota in principle,” Rostom said, adding that the ETUF will vote ‘no’ on the draft constitution should the quota remain cancelled. “We already warned the Constituent Assembly against playing with fire.”
Article 243 obliges the state to “adequately” represent farmers and labourers in the coming parliament in a manner to be organised by the law, whereas Article 244 obliges the state to “adequately” represent youth, Christians, and the disabled in the coming parliament and in a manner to be organised by the law. Only 27 members voted ‘yes’ to the latter article while 18 voted against it; it did not pass, alongside Article 243.
Constituent Assembly Chairman Amr Moussa called upon the assembly to convene after the voting session in order to discuss the four unapproved articles. The convention would also address a fifth article proposed by Press Syndicate representative Diaa Rashwan. The final versions of the contentious articles had not yet been announced at time of publishing.
The assembly meanwhile approved Article 204 of the constitution, with 41 votes for, six against and one abstention. The article bans military trials for civilians “except in cases which represent a direct assault on armed forces institutions, their camps or anything that falls under their authority, alongside assaults on military or border zones, and military institutions, vehicles, weapons, ammunition, documents, secrets, public funds, or factories.” The article also allows for the military prosecution of civilians who commit crimes concerning conscription or crimes considered a “direct attack on military officers or personnel as a result of carrying out their duties”, leaving the definition of such crimes up to the law.
The article was criticised by several human rights organisations and political movements, most notably the No Military Trials for Civilians group. The group announced it will campaign against the draft constitution as long as it allows the militarily to try civilians.
The Constituent Assembly also formally approved the elimination of the Shura Council as a legislative body.
The assembly was expected to be done with the constitution drafting on Tuesday.