Monday’s papers: Islamists vs civil powers, round two

After the National Salvation Front, representing numerous opposition parties, announced yesterday that it rejected the constitutional referendum that the president has set for Saturday, Monday’s papers report on the latest phase of the Islamist-secularist divide, which has been unfolding in the past weeks.

Al-Ahram newspaper highlights the rift with the headline “Political forces divided over the referendum and the constitutional declaration.”

At the national dialogue, which President Mohamed Morsy called for and most opposition forces boycotted, participants announced late Saturday night a new constitutional declaration that canceled the previous controversial one issued 22 November but kept its effects in place.

The paper reports that Islamists support the results of the dialogue and say it realizes the demands of the opposition. The opposition, however, disagrees.

According to Al-Ahram, the National Salvation Front has rejected the results of the dialogue and the constitutional referendum, calling on the people to continue large protests nationwide to defeat the constitution, which they say will lead to violations of rights and freedoms.

Opposition paper Al-Tahrir offers possible legal maneuvers to accomplish the opposition’s quest to stop the upcoming constitution referendum.

Legal experts told the paper that the president has the authority to retract the call for the referendum due to the absence of a consensus on the constitution. Experts also suggest that the Constituent Assembly reconvene and withdraw the current draft, requesting a two-month extension to reach a more acceptable draft.

The ruling Freedom and Justice Party’s newspaper stresses in its coverage that the current scenario gives the people the freedom to choose.

With the headline “The new constitutional declaration: The ball is now in the people’s court,” the paper quotes presidential spokesperson Yasser Ali saying that the president’s road map has honored the will of the people, giving them say on the fate of the constitution through the referendum.

The paper announces that the FJP has launched a campaign to encourage participation in the referendum. However, the title of the campaign, “With the constitution, the wheel of production will spin,” suggests that the campaign aims to convince people to vote “yes.”

Al-Akhbar state newspaper discloses the discussions that took place during the 12-hour dialogue between the president and the 54 political figures who agreed to attend his meeting, which ended with the substitution of the November constitutional declaration with a new, modified one.

The paper reports that, according to sources who attended the meeting, the main point of contention revolved around whether the new constitutional declaration should be an amendment to the old one or should cancel the old one completely.

Sources from the meeting told the paper that “signs of sadness” covered the president’s face when the majority agreed on canceling the November declaration that he issued, but that a clause stating that decisions made under the original declaration would remain in effect was added as a compromise.

Mohamed Mamdouh, a member of Hazemoun movement who attended the meeting, told the paper that this clause aimed at guaranteeing that former Prosecutor General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, whom the president had removed at the same time that he issued last month’s declaration, would not be reinstated.

In some instances, the rift has taken a personal direction.

According to independent Al-Watan newspaper, Prosecutor General Talaat Ibrahim Abdallah, appointed by Morsy in November, has started investigations into charges of grand treason, conspiracy and attempts to overthrow the system leveled against opposition leaders Mohamed ElBaradei and Hamdeen Sabbahi.

The paper reports that another investigation also accusing other opposition figures of conspiring to overthrow the ruling system is under way. The list of the accused includes Mahmoud, judge Tahani al-Gebali, Judges Club head Ahmed al-Zend and former presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq, among others.

Egypt’s papers:

Al-Ahram: Daily, state-run, largest distribution in Egypt

Al-Akhbar: Daily, state-run, second to Al-Ahram in institutional size

Al-Gomhurriya: Daily, state-run

Rose al-Youssef: Daily, state-run

Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned

Al-Shorouk: Daily, privately owned

Al-Watan: Daily, privately owned

Al-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party

Youm7: Daily, privately owned

Al-Tahrir: Daily, privately owned

Al-Sabah: Daily, privately owned

Freedom and Justice: Daily, published by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party

Sawt al-Umma: Weekly, privately owned

Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Nasserist Party

Al-Nour: Official paper of the Salafi Nour Party

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