Final constitution draft ready by December 3, says committee

The final draft of the new constitution will be ready by December 3, said on Monday the spokesperson for the 50-member constitutional committee, Mohamed Salmawy.

The committee has already started voting on the articles, he said, adding that the voting takes place in closed sessions that include only the 50 committee members. Their decisions would be announced in daily press conferences, Salmawy said.

The committee, appointed on September 1 by the interim government installed after former President Mohamed Morsi’s July 3 ouster, has been redrafting the 2012 Constitution ratified last year under the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated president. This new draft is based on a set of key articles drafted this summer by the committee of 10.

The drafting process has been the subject of intensely heated debate, particularly in regards to controversial articles on religion and the rights and privileges of the military.

In one of the most recent developments, the committee amended Article 3 to read, “non-Muslims have the right to refer to their own bylaws.” This article had previously specified Christians and Jews. The change was a concession to demands from human rights groups to ensure the freedom of belief for all, but has been criticized by some religious figures.

In a recent visit with committee head Amr Moussa, Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb said he did not approve of the amendment.

Salmawy assured that the committee has made significant progress in reaching consensus over the most controversial articles, and that negotiations between committee members and judicial bodies are ongoing.

He added that the committee has finished drafting 190 articles, and that the final draft will include over 200.

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