Military powers in draft constitutional document spark ire of opposition figures

Presidential hopeful Mohamed ElBaradei and the April 6 Youth Movement on Wednesday both voiced separate rejections of the government's draft constitutional principles document and the far-reaching powers it grants the military.

During his meeting with several political powers on Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Ali al-Selmy proposed a draft constitutional principles document as well as criteria for electing members to the assembly that will draft the new constitution.The document proposes that a 100-member constituent assembly be comprised of 80 non-parliamentary members and 20 members from political parties represented in parliament, with a maximum of five members from each party.

The draft also calls for the establishment of a national defense council headed by the president that would examine national security measures and be responsible for approving all military-related legislation.

The document also exclusively grants the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) the right to examine military affairs, including the armed forces budget. Military budget allocations would be listed as the first item in the national budget without detailed figures on proposed expenditures, the document suggests.

In a Twitter message, ElBaradei called for withdrawing the proposed draft. He stressed that a democratic civilian state differs from military custodianship and called for an impartial panel to present constitutional principles that can be respected by all political players. 

The former IAEA directed also said the priority should be for unity not more chaos and conflict.

In June, ElBaradei offered a draft constitutional principles document that did not grant the military any political role or special advantages.

In May, SCAF member Mamdouh Shahin called for including constitutional articles that would grant the military additional powers, including the authority to intervene to protect the people, as well as preventing the parliament from discussing the military budget and diminishing presidential powers over internal army affairs

"Principles that lead the armed forces to control the state and escape accountability are totally rejected," Injy Hamdy, a spokesperson for the April 6 Youth Movement, said in a statement released Wednesday.

Hamdy criticized the document, calling the broad powers it grants to the SCAF a farce. The movement also said the nation should be allowed to monitor the military's budget.

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