Military tribunals divide Egypt's constitution penal

The sources said four articles had already been approved, while the one regarding military trials of civilians continues to be divisive, the sources said.

Military tribunals divide Egypt's constitution penal

World Bulletin/News Desk

Members of Egypt's constitution-amending committee are yet to reach an agreement over suggestions regarding military trials of civilians, sources with the committee said.

The sources added that the members of the committee had already approved an article that makes the appointment of the minister of defense conditional on the approval of the members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

But this article will be in effect only during one presidential term after approving the constitution as part of a set of several articles covering Egypt's political transition, said the sources on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

According to the sources, the army representatives in the committee demanded that the article be in effect for two presidential four-year terms, but the committee approved the process for only one term.

The requirement that the members of the army council must approve the appointment of Egypt's defense minister was not part of the 2012 constitution, suspended by the army on July 3 following the ouster of the nation's elected president Mohamed Morsi.

The amended constitution, which should be put to a national referendum in late December, contains four other articles related to the army.

The sources said four articles had already been approved, while the one regarding military trials of civilians continues to be divisive, the sources said.

A group of committee members say it is important for the article to exactly specify the type of violations that make it necessary for civilians committing them to be brought to military courts.

Another group, however, believes that the article should not be present in the constitution at all and to leave it to ordinary laws.

Meanwhile, the representatives of the army insist that citizens who commit crimes that "are harmful to the military" must be brought to military courts.

But this is strongly opposed by a sizeable portion of committee members who say the decision is "obscure," the sources said.

They said the members of the committee would decide on the final phrasing of this particular article within the next few hours to open the door for voting by the members on the initial draft of the constitution by mid-next week.

Military analyst Mounzer Sleiman says Egypt's military establishment believes that the army's insistence to preserve its leverage stems from its belief it is the source of legitimacy since the 1952 revolution.

"This is why it is important to consider articles on the army in the constitution as an obligatory path to another stage," Sleiman, the head of think tank American-Arab Studies Center, told Anadolu Agency.

He said Egyptians should either work hard to bring to a minimum the advantages given the military establishment in the constitution, or just fall silent and let these advantages pass in order to give assurances to the military so that the transition can go forward.

"I am personally against giving any advantages to the military establishment," Sleiman said.

"But still it is important to deal with the situation on the ground and seek to reduce these advantages gradually in a way that does not engender confrontation that might hamper the transition," he added.

The amendment of Egypt's 2012 constitution is a main component of an army-imposed "roadmap" for political transition that also envisions parliamentary and presidential elections within nine months.

Last Mod: 17 Kasım 2013, 12:19
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