Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, March 2011
Constitutional Referendums in Egypt and Tunisia, Marking Steady Progress Towards Regime Change
Egypt to hold referendum on constitutional amendments on March 19
CAIRO, March 4, 2011 (Xinhua) --
A popular referendum over the constitutional amendments has been decided on March 19, Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces said on Friday.
The referendum, expected to last from local time 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) to 7 p.m. (1700 GMT), will decide the amendments of articles about presidential candidacy and terms, judicial monitoring on elections, membership of the People's Assembly and others.
The constitutional draft changes included the president's term reduced to four years and a two term limit on the president, as compared to the current presidential term, which is up to six years without any limit on terms.
The upcoming referendum also includes the cancellation of article 179 about the president's right to refer any terrorism crime to concerned jurisdiction body stipulated in the constitution.
Article 189, over the mechanism of amending the constitution, will also be subject to the referendum.
Egyptian citizens will use their national ID cards to participate in the referendum of constitutional amendments and the coming parliamentary and presidential elections, security sources said on Thursday.
Editor: Mu Xuequan
Tunisia's interim president announces election of constitutional council
TUNIS, March 3, 2011 (Xinhua) --
Tunisian interim President Fouad Mebazaa said Thursday an election is expected on July 24 to form a constitutional council.
In an address broadcast on Tunisian television, the caretaker president said he would not resign on March 15 and will remain in office until the election of the country's first constitutional council. He noted the amendment of the electoral code would be ready by then.
Setting up a constitutional council has been one of the main demands of a number of protesters, political parties and others.
Meanwhile, the interim president said new caretaker Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi will soon appoint ministers to replace those resigned earlier this week.
Editor: Mu Xuequan
Prime minister-elect vows to realise protesters' demands
France 24, March 4, 2011
By News Wires (text)
Egypt's premier-designate, Essam Sharaf, told some 10,000 demonstrators in Cairo's Tahrir Square Friday that he would work to meet their demands, including dissolving the notorious State Security Agency and releasing political prisoners.
Egypt’s prime minister-designate vowed Friday before thousands of demonstrators at a central Cairo square to do everything he could to meet their demands and pleaded with them to turn their attention to “rebuilding” the country.
Essam Sharaf was picked by Egypt’s military rulers on Thursday to replace Ahmed Shafiq as prime minister.
Shafiq was the last premier to be named by Hosni Mubarak, who stepped down Feb. 11 in the face of massive anti-government protests demanding an end to his 30-year rule.
A former transport minister, Sharaf endeared himself to the protesters when he joined the demonstrations that forced Mubarak to resign. His made his address Friday at Tahrir Square, the protests’ epicenter.
“I draw will and determination from here,” he told the estimated 10,000 demonstrators. “I will do my utmost to realize your demands,” he said, pledging to step down if he fails.
Shafiq, a U.S.-educated civil engineer, served in the Cabinet for 18 months between 2004 and 2005.
His appearance at the square on Friday - he was carried on the shoulders of demonstrators to and from the podium - was the latest evidence of the power retained by the youth groups nearly a month after they ousted Mubarak. Sharaf’s government will serve in a caretaker capacity until parliamentary elections are held.
However, Sharaf declined to take an oath of office before the demonstrators as they demanded and left the square amid chants of “Swear! Swear!”
Besides Shafiq’s resignation, the revolt’s leaders want Mubarak’s National Democratic Party dissolved along with the hated State Security Agency blamed for some of the worst human rights violations during Mubarak’s rule. Other demands include the prosecution of security officials behind the deaths of protesters and the release of political prisoners.
“I am here because I get my legitimacy from you,” Sharaf, in a gray business suit but no tie, told the demonstrators. He called on the protesters to turn their attention to “rebuilding Egypt.”
“I pray to God that I see an Egypt where free opinions are voiced outside (prison) cells and security agencies are in the service of the nation.”
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