Egyptian Constitution Becomes Law
December 26, 2012
Egyptian voters have now spoken, and the draft constitution is now law, signed into being by President Mohamed Morsi.
In all, 64 percent of those who voted approved of the constitution. Turnout in the nation of 84 million people was less than 40 percent.
The national referendum went ahead despite intense protests from opposition leaders, now committed to forming their own political party under the umbrella of the National Salvation Front, formed by Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed El-Baradei and former Arab League chief Amr Moussa.
Now that the constitution is in place, the country can have elections for the lower house of Parliament, which was dissolved by the judiciary earlier this year. The upper house is still viable and, as a result of the referendum, has full legislative power, something that Morsi had assumed in his November 22 decree granting himself expansive presidential powers that included immunity from judicial oversight. That decree sparked massive protests in Cairo, Alexandria, and Heliopolis, including a large crowd that ringed the presidential palace for several days.
Morsi, in a speech just after he signed the constitution into law, urged all Egyptians to work together in the days ahead, a nod to the tough economic times the country is still facing. Morsi had planned to introduce a new tax several days ago but decided against it in attempt to keep the protests from growing even larger.
The national economy is still struggling to regain revenue as the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak still resonates. The national currency is still struggling to gain tractions on the world stage. The Egyptian pound has fallen to its lowest level in nearly eight years. Also, the credit agency Standard & Poor's downgraded Egypt's long-term credit rating, making the country potentially less attractive to overseas investors.
Morsi and his upper house of Parliament, the Shura, will carry on for the next two months until the lower house elections take place. Politicians continue to leave the government, however. Vice-president Mahmoud Mekki resigned just before Christmas, and Communications Minister Hany Mahmoud also announced that he was departing.