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The Egyptian revolution has begun to transition into an administrative phase as the first rounds of voting commence in the coming weeks. Working towards a stable, democratic government, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has appointed a committee to revise Egypt’s constitution, and prepare for the upcoming elections.
On March 19 a public referendum scheduled to take place, will set the preliminary measures by which Egypt’s political future will be defined. In polling stations open to the public from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Egyptians will determine whether they agree to amendments made on 8 articles in the constitution (75, 76, 77, 88, 93, 139 and 149 and the cancellation of Article 179).
Article 75 now states that a president—of at least 40 years old— must be borne by two Egyptian Parents, and cannot marry a foreign wife—Mubarak’s wife, Suzanne, was half Welsh.
Article 76 outlines the eligibility of a candidate to run for president: the candidate should be endorsed by 30 members from the People`s Assembly or the Shura Council (the lower and upper houses of parliament); receive 30,000 signatures from Egyptians from 15 Governorates; or be a member of a party that holds at least one seat in Parliament.
Article 77 restricts a president from serving more than two terms in office, each lasting four years. No limit previously existed, and Mubarak was able to hold five, six-year terms.
Article 88 was modified to allow judicial oversight during the election process—from voter lists to the announcement of results.
Article 89 concerns the means to amend the constitution, ensuring that the next elected parliament will form a 100 member elected commission to draft a new constitution within the first six months after its election.
Article 93 has been amended so the Supreme Constitutional Court is the sole arbitrator on contested memberships. Previously, the People’s Assembly had authority in determining the validity of the parliamentary membership.
Article 139 requires a president to appoint a vice president within the first two months of inauguration.
Under article 148, if the president wants to apply the State of Emergency for over six months, it must be approved by a public referendum. Formerly, the Emergency Law could be renewed by the People’s Assembly.
If passed, the changes will be the basis for parliamentary elections scheduled for June, and the presidential election in August.
“We are putting them [the amendments] to public debate now,” said Sobhi Saleh, the only member of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood on the committee. “If there is a substantive challenge, we will take it into consideration.”
The June elections will affect the formation of political parties in parliament and consequently establish nominees for the presidency.
Anticipated frontrunners emerging are Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, and former International Atomic Energy Agency director Mohamed ElBaradei.
ElBaradei, 68, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005, said he will vote in opposition to the March 19 amendments, pushing for a new constitution to be drafted. “The current constitution fell. It would be an insult to the revolution if we decided to retrieve this constitution.”
On March 9 Moussa, 74, the most prominent figure to announce his candidacy, stated he “would not be another Mubarak.” Popular amongst middle class Egyptians, Moussa’s future plans include peace with Israel, cooperation in favor of submission to U.S. relations, political integration between the Muslim Brotherhood and Copts, and encouragement for women and the younger generation to become involved in Egypt’s future. “The choice should be to the people.”