Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Over the next couple of days, Egyptians will be voting on their third constitution in three years. Supporters of the July 3 military coup claim that this constitution will realise the hopes and aspirations of the January 25 2011 revolution and lead Egypt into a glorious democratic future, but the reality is likely to be very different.

Put aside that the Constitution only came about as a result of a military coup and in an environment of unprecedented violence and repression, and the fact that it was authored by an unrepresentative committee of 50 people selected by the military dictatorship - all factors that would normally render it illegitimate – the document itself is seriously flawed.

It explicitly exempts the military from any civilian oversight, and allows for ongoing military intervention in politics by not explicitly enshrining Egypt’s civil state status (a last minute change by the military rulers substituted civil state with civil government). Civilians will be subject to martial law for even for the most trivial offences against military personnel or property, with no right of appeal. It grants the Presidency sweeping new powers and autonomy from legislative oversight, and creates unnecessary political uncertainty by leaving open the question of whether Presidential elections will precede parliamentary elections.

Such is the level of concern that groups including the April 6 Youth Movement that inspired the January 25 2011 revolution, have decided to boycott the referendum altogether.

"How can one have confidence that this constitution will lead to democracy when people are being charged for advocating a no vote?" says Australians for Democracy and Human Rights in Egypt spokesperson, Mr. Adel Salman, referring to the arrest of 7 members of the centrist Strong Egypt political party. "Regardless of the outcome of the referendum, one has to wonder what type of Egypt can emerge when protestors are being killed on a daily basis, thousands of political prisoners are locked up, and all forms of opposition ruthlessly silenced?" questions Salman.

For further details, please contact: Adel Salman mobile 0421 059 095 email

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