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After five hours of heated discussions at the Shura Council on Tuesday evening as demonstrators surrounded the building, Constituent Assembly members refused to end their session before agreeing on articles pertaining to the head of state.
As to the article on the president being charged with treason, the head of the assembly, Hossam al-Gheriany, said the president should not appear before a special court but before a criminal court formed by 11 advisers of the Court of Cassation, rejecting that the president of the Supreme Constitutional Court should preside over it.
However, other members felt that there is a political and constitutional element to the president’s trial that warrants a special court to be headed by the president of the SCC.
Ramadan Batikh suggested that the president should face a political trial if he violates the constitution, but the other members rejected the suggestion.
It was agreed to leave the article unchanged, whereby the president would be tried on two levels, namely Parliament approving the charge, and the Court of Cassation holding the trial.
The assembly also abolished the post of vice president, as under the new political system, the president shares executive power with the prime minister.
The assembly also agreed to restrict the president’s right to declare a state of emergency by obligating him to consult with the prime minister first and seek Parliament’s approval within seven days.
If Parliament was out of session, it must convene specifically to discuss the state of emergency, and if it was dissolved, the Senate discusses it.
In all cases, the state of emergency can be declared only for a specified period, not exceeding six months, and may be extended once for a similar period after approval from Parliament and a popular referendum.
Here, Gheriany questioned the possibility of holding a referendum under turbulent conditions.
The assembly approved the right of the president to declare war after the approval of Parliament and after consulting the Defense Council. Otherwise, he is not to declare war or send the Armed Forces outside the country.
The president nominates the prime minister and assigns him to form a Cabinet within 30 days. Should that Cabinet be rejected by Parliament in the following 30 days, the president assigns another prime minister from the majority party in Parliament. If the second Cabinet is rejected, Parliament nominates a prime minister, which the president will ask to form a Cabinet. If that Cabinet is rejected, the president will dissolve Parliament and call for parliamentary elections within 60 days.
And in any case, the periods set forth in this article shall not exceed 120 days.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm