New Egyptian Constitutional Tweaks Invitation to Tyranny? Egyptian Protesters Say Vote NO in Referendum

No surprise here. Nothing is happening as the anti-government protesters hoped would happen. The prime minister Hosni Mubarak appointed before leaving in disgrace, Shafiq, has resigned. The ruling military put Essam Sharaf in his place (protesters do seem to approve of him). A vote on the referendum for the constitutional amendment tweaks is only hours away. Most are not happy about them, and the anti-government protesters are calling for a big turnout to vote ‘NO.’ The following are bits and pieces of news about the changes that may or may not happen in a vote on Saturday in Egypt.

The country is riddled with crime not seen in many years. Rival gangs are battling in the streets. State police are still hated, and the Wall Street Journal reports that Sharaf will dissolve the group and form the National Security Sector.

Tomorrow’s referendum to amend the Egyptian constitution is no expression of popular will. Rather, it is a last roar from an anti-democratic past, an illegitimate exercise that lacks the support of the country’s revolutionary vanguard and could imperil the transition to real democracy.

The proposed amendments are harmless and laudable enough, in themselves – term limits on the presidency; requiring a vice-president; limits on the emergency law – all these are good changes, responding to grievances against the rule of former president Hosni Mubarak.

But if it passes, the new constitution is an invitation to tyranny. Read more at Globe and Mail.

About the crime: The Jawa Report says there has been a “mass exodus” of prisoners charged with terrorism released from Egyptian prisoners this week. Among them was Mohammad al-Zawahiri. If that name sounds familiar, he is the brother of al-Qaeda’s second-in-command, Ayam al-Zawahiri.

Remember the camels and jockeys riders that came crashing through the streets of Cairo during the heat of the protests? Two pro-Mubarak supporters have been arrested for being organizers of the “camel clash.”

This article on the referendums makes the ironic point that Egyptians will vote without knowing how the elections will fall – something that hasn’t happened in that country for at least 30 years, and maybe never. It marks the vote as the beginning of  the “rebuilding,” even though the protesters, and the world, was clearly promised a new constitution in thirty days. Standing in stark contrast to the Globe and Mail article, this writer believes the amendments will make it “much harder for future rulers to declare martial law.”  The people want a wholly new constitution but the Muslim Brotherhood is happy.

I haven’t been able to determine Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s opinion about the referendum, but if the Muslim Brotherhood is satisfied, I have to assume the Israeli-hating cleric Qaradawi is satisfied as well.

Amr Moussa, an Egyptian diplomat and the Secretary-General of the Arab League says he will vote ‘no’ on the referendum. Rather than tweaking existing amendments, Moussa wants a “temporary constitutional declaration,” which he says will allow the Egyptian people to to elect a president first and then elect a committee to write the new constitution.

The anti-government protesters are asking everyone to come out and vote, and vote ‘NO.’ Mohamed ElBaradei is calling for a ‘no’ vote. Sources: The Egyptian Gazette. News Lebanon. But then, Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces say they may delay the vote until presidential elections are held. Very confusing for the people.