Egypt's latest draft of a new constitution was already weakened because of constitutional committee resignations by non-Islamists. Rushing the document to completion could cement that.
Egypt's constitution-drafting committee put the document to a vote today in a surprise move that the president's allies say hastens Egypt's democratic transition, but which opponents claim undermines its legitimacy.
The move by the constitution-writing committee shocked many Egyptians because President Mohamed Morsi issued a decree only last week that protected the committee from possible court-ordered dissolution and gave it two more months to finish the document.
His decree also made his own decisions immune from judicial review, removing most checks on his power. He and his allies have only doubled down on their stance as they confront strong opposition from the judiciary.
Dominated by allies of the president, the constituent assembly, which rushed to make last-minute amendments yesterday, is virtually guaranteed to have enough votes to pass the constitution today. But pushing through a controversial document drafted by a committee from which most non-Islamists resigned in protest over the past couple months will deepen the polarization that has crippled Egypt's politics and undermine the legitimacy of the new constitution.
"It is not unusual for constitutions to be written under contentious circumstances," says Nathan Brown, a political science professor at George Washington University and an expert on Egypt's judicial system. "But it is hard to think of one which has been so obviously shoved down the throats of all non-Islamist political forces, and over the metaphorical dead bodies of a large number of judicial organizations as well."
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