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The Constituent Assembly discussed the role of the military in the new constitution at its meeting Monday, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.
It also discussed a proposal put forward by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and assembly member Mamdouh Shahin that would grant the military substantial powers within the state.
In statements to Al-Masry Al-Youm, Shahin denied submitting any proposal on the military’s role to the Constituent Assembly. He said it was still very early for such a proposal.
Wahid Abdel Meguid, spokesman for the Constituent Assembly, said on Sunday that the proposals submitted to assembly for the new constitution grant the military no special privileges.
“They set the role of the military in protecting the homeland,” he said, denying any tendency for the armed forces to share power.
Shahin said that the assembly's System of Government Committee is responsible for drafting the provisions on the executive branch, which includes the powers of the president, as well as the position of the military, the police and the judiciary.
Abdel Meguid said Shahin put forward his views on the military’s role in his capacity as an assembly member.
Former Freedom and Justice Party MP Mohsen Radi, head of the Culture, Information and Tourism Committee in the dissolved parliament, told the independent daily Al-Shorouk that the military should not have a special status in the constitution.
Constituent Assembly member and Wasat Party leader Mohamed Mahsoub told Al-Shorouk that three principles had been previous agreed upon, "The army shall not interfere in politics, shall be under the political leadership, and its value and status shall remain untouchable."
“It was agreed that the army budget shall enjoy a special status for two reasons, confidentiality and the fact that the armed forces have established economic projects that is valuable to the national economy," Mahsoub said.
He noted that the military budget should be a part of the state budget, and not separate.
"The budget will be discussed in parliament by a special committee that keeps confidentiality," he said.
Abdel Ghaffar Shokr, a member of Socialist Popular Alliance Party, suggested that the military budget be audited by the Defense, National Security and Mobilization Committee. Additionally, he suggested that military affairs be managed by the National Defense Council, so that a state within a state will not be formed.
Ayman Nour, head of Ghad al-Thawra Party and member of the Constituent Assembly, denied rumors that the president's term will end after the referendum on the new constitution, so that it could be followed by new presidential elections, according to MENA.
In a meeting with his party and a number of other parties' members about the drafting of the new constitution, Nour said that the constitution does not apply retroactively. He said the few cases in which new presidential elections may be needed do not apply to the current president-elect.
Nour said that the new constitution needs new articles to be added holding the president accountable beyond cases of high treason. Such procedures are being discussed within the Constituent Assembly.
Abdel Meguid also explained that there are three possibilites for Article 2, which defines the state’s relationship to Sharia. The assembly could keep it unchanged as per the 1971 Constitution, assign Al-Azhar to interpret the “principles” of the Sharia, or add to a clause allowing other faiths to abide to their own religious laws.
“The drafting committee will start as soon as it receives the proposals from the five other committees,” he said. “The same article may have different proposals for the committee to consider.”
“The first committee expected to present its proposals is the committee on rights and freedoms, followed by the committee on basic components and then the system of government committee,” he said. “The whole process will take more than a month.”
“Each article will be discussed separately and passed either by vote or consensus,” he said.
Abdel Meguid said that next session will choose replacements for the six members who resigned or declined to serve in the assembly from the same political factions of those who left to maintain the balance within the assembly.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm