Analysis

Egypt: Rammed-Through Constitution Could Lead to Bloodshed
Top: Egypt’s constitution-writing assembly holds its last voting session on a new constitution today at the Shoura Assembly in Cairo. Bottom: protesters run as they face Egyptian riot police during clashes near Cairo's Tahrir Square on November 28. Police fired tear gas into Tahrir Square where several hundred protesters spent the night after a mass rally to denounce President Mohammed Morsi's assumption of expanded powers. (GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images)
November 29, 2012
| Security
| Middle East and North Africa
Summary
SITUATION REPORT
1800 EDT Update
 
 The political crisis in Egypt took a new, more dangerous turn over the last 24 hours when an Islamist-dominated assembly suddenly decided it would approve a new constitution to relieve political pressure on President Mohammed Morsi and to outmaneuver the Egyptian High Court, which apparently was planning to invalidate the assembly. Although the Islamists are likely to be successful in ramming through a new constitution, the high-handed way they went about this is likely to exacerbate political tensions in the country and could lead to violence.
Egypt’s constitution-writing assembly began voting on a new constitution today. The article-by-article vote was at least half completed by 1700 EDT according to press reports. Assembly members vowed to finish the process tomorrow.  
 
There were calls to delay the process, but the assembly chairman ignored them. Some analysts have called the draft constitution being considered by the assembly as hastily drafted and ill-defined. Other experts have claimed that in the rush to approve a constitution before the Egyptian courts rule on the legality of the assembly on Sunday, it is basically tinkering with the existing constitution.
 
Liberals, secularists, and Coptic Christians who strongly oppose the effort to quickly ram through a constitution have called for mass demonstrations tomorrow. The Muslim Brotherhood said it will hold their own mass demonstration on December 1 but will conduct it in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to avoid provoking violent conflicts with anti-Morsi demonstrators.
 
President Morsi said in a prerecorded televised speech today that between 80 and 90 percent of Egyptians support his recent decree placing his decisions above legal appeal. He made a similar statement in an interview released today by Time magazine.
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