Egypt’s political transition was pitched into uncertainty on Sunday when a draft constitution was amended to allow a presidential election to be held before parliamentary polls, indicating a potential change in the army’s roadmap. The roadmap unveiled when Islamist President Mohamed Morsi was ousted in July said a parliamentary election should take place before the presidential one. But the draft finalized on Sunday by the 50-member constituent assembly avoids saying which vote should happen first, leaving the decision up to President Adly Mansour. “Now we have approved the draft,” Amr Mussa, the head of the 50-member constitution-drafting panel, announced on live television. “The draft will be given to (interim president) Adly Mansour on Tuesday,” he said, adding: “Long live Egypt.” The draft also says the “election procedures” must start within six months of the constitution’s ratification, meaning Egypt may not have an elected president and parliament until the second half of next year.
A major milestone in Egypt’s political roadmap, the constitution must be approved in a referendum expected this month or next. Amr Moussa, chairman of the constituent assembly, said the draft constitution would be handed to Mansour on Tuesday.
Moussa, former Arab League secretary general, was a candidate in the presidential election won by Morsi last year.
The draft reflects how the balance of power has shifted in Egypt since the secular-minded generals ousted Mursi, the country’s first freely elected head of state, after mass protests against him and the Muslim Brotherhood.
The new constitution could lead to an outright ban on Islamist parties and strengthens the political grip of the already powerful military establishment that has put itself squarely back at the heart of power since toppling Morsi.
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