Liberal parties disagree on supra-constitutional principles document

Liberal political parties' reactions to the interim government's proposed supra-constitutional principles have varied between defending and rejecting the document.

The parties that reject the document will hold a meeting on Sunday to announce whether or not they will participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Others argue that the principles will work to guarantee a civil state, condemning Islamist parties' rejection of them as opportunistic. And others still have delayed taking final stances on the document until controversial articles 9 and 10 are amended.

As currently written, Article 9 stipulates that only the armed forces have the right to discuss issues related to the military and its budget, and Article 10, which forms a National Defense Council to be headed by the president, does not give the council the responsibility of overseeing the military's budget.

The Democratic Alliance, an electoral bloc led by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, has vowed to take to the streets if the supra-constitutional principles are passed, demanding that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) drop the proposal and sack Deputy Prime Minister Ali al-Selmy, who has been campaigning for its passage.

The Brotherhood and other Islamists view the document as potentially limiting the upcoming parliament's ability to form the constituent assembly that will draft the nation's new constitution.

The controversial articles protecting the military from oversight have raised reservations among non-Islamists as well.

The supra-constitutional principles document should act as a guide, not a mandatory decree, said Wasat Party Spokesperson Tarek al-Malt, encouraging all Egyptians to abide by the principles as a “code of honor.” He added that his party rejects articles 9 and 10 as they are currently written.

The Democratic Front Party will reject the constitutional document if articles 9 and 10 are not amended, said party Chairman Al-Saeed Kamel.

The Tagammu Party will not participate in the million-strong demonstrations Islamist parties have planned for 18 November to denounce the supra-constitutional principles, announced party leader Hussein Abdel Razeq. He accused the Freedom and Justice Party and Salafi parties of being opportunistic in opposing the document.

Islamist parties have participated in all major discussions concerning the supra-constitutional principles from the beginning, including the National Reconciliation Conference held by former Deputy Prime Minister Yehia al-Gamal, as well dialogues convened by both presidential hopeful Mohamed ElBaradei and the Democratic Alliance to write their own supra-constitutional documents.

Islamists' opportunism is obvious, Abdel Razeq said, considering that they only now reject the document despite being involved in its drafting process since the beginning.

The Wafd Party will not take part in the 18 November demonstrations, said Wafd Party deputy head Baha Abu Shaqa, arguing that political parties desperately need to unite ahead of the parliamentary elections.

Abu Shaqa also noted that Islamist parties had previously agreed on the principles when they were discussed within the Democratic Alliance. The Wafd Party has since left the coalition.

The Egyptian Social Democratic Party agrees with the proposed principles except for what party Chairman Mohamed Abul Ghar called “strange articles” relating to the powers of the armed forces.

Abul Ghar said he supports drafting a document that reassures all segments of society, including the economic and tourism sectors.

"We are waiting for the amendments. If they amend the document, we will approve it," he said.

The Adl Party rejects setting any rules for the next parliament, as they would be unconstitutional and lead Egypt into a dark tunnel, said Abdel Moneim Emam, a leading figure in the party. He noted that his party has already rejected articles 9 and 10.

"If these two articles are amended or canceled, the party will approve the document, provided that it only functions as a guide."

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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