Monday 19 February 2018

Morsi promises stability in Egypt as constitution becomes law

Ruth Sherlock Beirut

Mohamed Morsi, the Egyptian president, pledged an era of "security and stability" yesterday after signing into law a new constitution backed by his Islamist allies.

In a televised address to the nation, Mr Morsi congratulated Egyptians for endorsing the constitution through a national referendum, but admitted the country had gone through "disquieting" weeks of unrest.

He said he took "difficult" decisions in the lead-up to the adoption of the document, but insisted they were necessary to establish "a new era . . . with more security and stability".

"There were mistakes on both sides during this temporary period," he said. "I bear the responsibility with you. I only took decisions for God and in the interests of the nation."

While he acknowledged the "respectable" proportion that voted against the text, he rejected opposition allegations of fraud and urged his opponents to engage in a national dialogue to resolve lingering tensions.

He added that he would shuffle his government to tackle economic problems.

More than 60pc of voters backed the constitution, the government said, although only a third of Egypt's 52 million-strong electorate voted.

The constitution grants the Islamist-dominated Shura Council, the upper house of the Egyptian parliament, temporary powers to legislate and lay the groundwork for elections to be held within two months.

The liberal opposition says it betrays Egypt's 2011 revolution by mixing religion and politics.

Mohammed Mahsoub, the Egyptian cabinet minister in charge of parliamentary affairs, said: "I congratulate the Egyptian people on behalf of the government for the passing of the constitution, which establishes a modern democratic state where people's voices are heard."

But Mr Morsi's opponents – mostly secularists, liberals and Leftists – have rejected the new charter, which they see as a tool of the Muslim Brotherhood and its Salafist allies to introduce strict Islamic law in the country.

The effect, they fear, could give undue influence to clerics in lawmaking, and leave minority groups without adequate legal protection.

The US, which gives $1.3bn (€0.98bn) a year to Egypt's military, has called on Mr Morsi to "bridge divisions" with the largely secular opposition. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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