Panel: Constitutional amendments enough for a legitimate parliament

The amendments proposed for Egypt's Constitution, which will be put to public referendum on Saturday, are enough for parliament to operate legitimately, said a member of the panel that proposed them.

Rejecting the amendments will take us back to square one, said Ahmed Bagato, the panel's spokesperson, adding: "refusing the changes will submit us to an inoperative Constitution involving the old articles rejected by the people."

Bagato said that in addition to removing certain deficincies in the 1971 Constitution, the changes would give the Constitutional Court the exclusive right to revoke or approve parliamentary memberships, unlike the previous system, in which the parliament itself did.

Bagato added that replacing the entire document would require a committee elected for the purpose, and said such a committee would not finish its work in under a year.

He highlighted the possibility of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces deactivating some constitutional articles while activating others during its current rule. He added that full judicial supervision over elections is the best way to ensure their transparency.

Several Egyptian political groups have criticized the proposed amendments, saying they maintain the flaws of the old Constitution and do not recognize the legitimacy of the revolution that ousted the regime of former president Hosni Mubarak.

The amendments have also been criticized for not being clear on the measures to be taken for the creation of a new Constitution, and the extensive powers it gives the president.

Political groups also believe they do not explain the position of the military council which has been in power since 11 February, making its call for the upcoming elections unconstitutional.

The Muslim Brotherhood and the formerly-ruling National Democratic Party have been the most prominent groups supporting the constitutional changes in their current form.

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