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A Year in Review: Constitutional mazes - Daily News Egypt

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A Year in Review: Constitutional mazes

For the past two years whoever has been in power in Egypt has taken it upon themselves to issue constitutional decrees in order to right the wrongs of previous decrees. Predictably, this plunged the country into constitutional chaos.


Polling station officials count ballots in Cairo on 15 December 2012. (DNE/ Hassan Ibrahim)
Polling station officials count ballots in Cairo on 15 December 2012. (AFP/ MAHMOUD KHALED)

13 February 2011

  • SCAF issues constitutional decree, effectively “suspending” 1971 constitution
  • 1971 constitution stipulates Speaker of People’s Assembly or Supreme Constitutional Court Chairman will replace president in case of permanent absence for 60 days before holding elections
  • SCAF says it will amend 1971 constitution to allow for easier nomination for post of president among other reforms

19 March 2011

  • Referendum on SCAF amendments, which include an article stipulating that upon its election, parliament is to appoint a Constituent Assembly and task it with drafting a new constitution
  • Amendments lay down clear electoral timeline: elect parliament, elect president, new constitution
  • Islamists and pro-military secularists campaign for yes vote for Sharia and/or stability
  • Secular liberal, leftists and revolutionaries campaign for no vote, demanding a new constitution before anything

30 March 2011

  • Referendum passes by 77 per cent. SCAF does not ratify amendments, instead issues a constitutional decree meant to act as a temporary constitution
  • Constitutional decree includes the amended articles voted on in the referendum, changes some of the references from “president” to “SCAF” and adds dozens of articles not subjected to referendum
  • SCAF holds both executive and legislative powers until parliament and president are elected

28 November 2011

  • Parliamentary elections begin, Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party gains a plurality in the lower house and majority in the upper. Both houses dominated by Islamists.
  • Lower house of parliament, People’s Assembly, assumes legislative powers from SCAF
  • Clauses stipulated in March 30 decree did not give authority to People’s Assembly to hold a vote of no confidence, sack the cabinet or appoint a new one.

24 March 2012

  • People’s Assembly elects Islamist-dominated Constituent Assembly. Half of members are also Members of Parliament.

10 April 2012

  • Administrative court dissolves Constituent Assembly

23 May 2012

  • First round of presidential elections. Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsy and Mubarak’s last Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq win.

8 June 2012

  • New Constituent Assembly elected
  • Amidst presidential elections, it is clear the assembly won’t finish constitution before presidential elections

14 June 2012

  • Supreme Constitutional Court rules to dissolve People’s Assembly after finding parliamentary elections law unconstitutional
  • SCAF assumes legislative powers again

17 June 2012

SCAF issues Supplementary Constitutional Decree citing absence of People’s Assembly and Constitution

  • New decree severely limits presidential powers
  • Grants SCAF legislative power until new parliamentary elections after adoption of a new constitution
  • Gives SCAF powers over defense and the military
  • Gives SCAF veto power over the draft constitution
  • Second round of presidential elections

24 June 2012

  • Mohamed Morsy wins presidential elections

30 June 2012

  • Morsy assumes presidency, forced to share power with SCAF
  • SCAF chooses its head, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, as Minister of Defense in Morsy’s cabinet

12 August 2012

  • Morsy issues constitutional decree
  • Sacks Tantawi and other military leaders
  • Appoints new military chief
  • Revokes all self imposed power from SCAF
  • Assumes legislative power until election of a new parliament following adoption of a constitution

22 November 2012

Morsy issues new constitutional decree:

  • Protects upper house of parliament, Shura Council, and Constituent Assembly, from court dissolutions
  • Makes decisions above judicial review
  • Sacks prosecutor general, unilaterally appoints new one
  • Extends Constituent Assembly’s deadline by two months
DNE/ Hassan Ibrahim
DNE/ Hassan Ibrahim

29 November 2012

  • Constituent Assembly, saved from an imminent court dissolution, finalises constitution in one night despite having an extra two months

1 December 2012

  • Morsy calls for referendum on draft constitution on 15 December

8 December 2012

  • Morsy rescinds decree, issues a replacement after nationwide protests organised by opposition and a mass judicial strike with judges threatening not to monitor the referendum
  • Cancels protection of Shura Council, Constituent Assembly and his decisions
  • Keeps new prosecutor
  • Judges maintain referendum boycott

15 – 22 December 2012

  • Referendum split over two Saturdays due to lack judges
  • Voting violations reported

24 December 2012

  • New constitution officially ratified
  • Full legislative power transferred from Morsy to Shura Council, to which Morsy appointed 90 members to on 22 December
  • Shura Council, elected by 7 per cent of eligible voters, to assume new legislative powers granted by the new constitution, in addition to those ascribed to the lower house, renamed the House of Representatives, until one is elected
  • House of Representatives to be elected within 60 days
  • New Shura Council to be elected within a year

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