I am writing this post to document my objection to the latest constitutional declaration announced by Egypt’s president Mohammed Morsi. My problem with the constitutional declaration is that it is, for all intents and purpose, a declaration of dictatorship. Not unlike the Enabling Act of 1933, which made Hitler a dictator in Germany, this constitutional declaration makes a dictator of the president of Egypt.
I will now examine the offending articles in the constitutional declaration
- Article 2: Previous constitutional declarations, laws, and decrees made by the president since he took office on 30 June 2012, until the constitution is approved and a new People’s Assembly [lower house of parliament] is elected, are final and binding and cannot be appealed by any way or to any entity. Nor shall they be suspended or canceled and all lawsuits related to them and brought before any judicial body against these decisions are annulled.
- Problem: The problem with this article is that it eliminates all oversight on the president. None of the laws he creates can be challenged in court. As a matter of fact, this article specifically annuls all lawsuits brought against the decisions of the president. The president can now make arbitrary laws on whim, and there would be no legal recourse to redressing any excesses in these laws. You need to think about the gravity of this a bit, the president can create ANY law, no matter how unconstitutional or unfair, and there would be no legal way to challenge that law. The apparatus of the state would enforce it and everybody would have to comply.
- Article 5: No judicial body can dissolve the Shura Council [upper house of parliament] or the Constituent Assembly.
- Problem: The main problem with this article is it’s second part, the part that forbids the judiciary from ruling on the legality of the Constituent Assembly — the body charged with creating Egypt’s draft constitution. The Assembly is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist parties, and secular and national forces have been arguing for a long time that it is not possible for such a narrow section of Egypt’s population to be in charge of the constitution of the country. The constitution should be written with the interest of all people in the country, regardless of their religious or political orientation. However, this article essentially makes the courts impotent in judging the legality of the assembly. This essentially amounts to giving the parties that dominate the Constituent Assembly carte blanche to write the constitution of their choosing without paying any attention to the needs of the other constituents of the country.
- Article 6: The President may take the necessary actions and measures to protect the country and the goals of the revolution.
- Problem: This is perhaps the most disturbing article of the lot. Its disturbing because it is open ended. The President may take the “necessary actions and measures” to protect the country and the goals of the revolution. What are these actions? Can they violate existing laws and the current constitutional declaration? Can they violate personal rights? Unfortunately, the answer to the last two questions seems to be yes, while the answer to the first seems to be “nobody knows”. The president, in this article, has essentially given himself the right to do anything — take any actions and measures — if he deems it necessary to “protect the country and goals of the revolution”. Can you see the problem? “Protect the country” and “protect the goals of the revolution” are open to interpretation. And the president says that he will be able to do “anything” he sees fit to accomplish this. If you don’t see this as an open invitation to do whatever he wants without heed to any rules or laws, then you are very naïve.
So, let me summarize, the president can make any laws and take any actions that he sees fit if he uses “protecting the country” and/or “protecting the goals of the revolution” as a rationale for these laws or actions. None of these laws or actions can be challenged in court even if they infringe on rights or violate the constitution because, according to article two of the constitutional declaration, the decisions of the president are unchallengeable. And finally, the constitutional assembly, a body heavily dominated by the president’s party is immune to any judicial oversight, including any legal action brought against it due to it’s unrepresentative composition.
The funny part is that they are calling this farce “revolutionary decisions”. I’m sorry, these are not revolutionary decisions, these are decisions that allow the president and his party to create a dictatorship. They would have been revolutionary if these vast powers were being granted to a representative revolutionary council.
Unfortunately, this is not the case, the vast powers outlined above are being granted to the MB only — either through the immunity being granted to the president (a member of the Muslim Brotherhood) or to the constitutional assembly (a body dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood). Welcome to the dictatorship of the Muslim Brotherhood. Sieg Heil.