Egypt's new president and the military: Who's in command?

News article, posted 06.18.2012, from Egypt, in:
Egypt's new president and the military: Who's in command? (Photo: AP)

An emergency meeting of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) is expected very soon to issue an appendix to last year’s Constitutional Declaration, with the objective of establishing political arrangements for the coming period.

Informed sources said SCAF leaders have held a series of intensive meetings with groups of constitutional law professors in recent days to tackle two urgent issues: detailing the powers and duties of the new president; and forming a new Constituent Assembly tasked with writing the country’s new constitution.

Concerning the first issue, legal experts agree that the existing Constitutional Declaration, issued 30 March 2011, fell short of any detailed chapters on the powers and responsibilities of the country’s first freely and democratically elected president.

“When the declaration was issued last year, everyone thought that this would be temporary, for just a short period of time and until a new constitution is written,” said Sameh Ashour, chairman of the Lawyers' Syndicate and SCAF’s Advisory Council.

As a result, Ashour added, the declaration included just one article — Article 56 — that gives the head of SCAF absolute powers, such as appointing governments and cabinet ministers, issuing laws, ratifying international agreements, and declaring a state of emergency.

“As these are not enough and as the new president is about to be elected without having a constitution in place, it has become pressing to issue an appendix,” said Ashour, adding that, “This appendix is expected to deal with issues such as whether the newly-elected president would be empowered to dissolve parliament, appoint governments, issue legislation, and so on.”

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