VP and Others Resign from Egypt’s Morsi-Led Government
On Saturday, hours after the close of the final phase of the referendum, Vice President Mahmoud Mekki stepped down after having tendered his resignation a month ago. President Morsi apparently did not accept the resignation, leaving him to finish his duties, says Egypt’s Nile Television.
Hours before, the polls had closed in 17 of Egypt’s 27 provinces, where Egyptians had the opportunity to vote on the Sharia-based constitution that has been pushed through by President Morsi’s coalition of Islamists.
The first of the two-day constitutional referendum last Saturday was marred by a myriad of allegations of vote tampering. This led to a last chance protest called for Tuesday by the moderate National Salvation Front (NSF).
The Muslim Brotherhood called for protests on Friday. Riot Police have focused on keeping the protesting factions separated, but on Friday, violence erupted in Alexandria outside the Al-Qa’ed Ibrahim Mosque. At least 37 were injured. Over the past week, Morsi’s administration proposed Mubarak-style laws to limit protests. The protest law was earlier proposed by Essam Sharaf’s cabinet in Mar. 2011 criminalized protests, sit-ins and gatherings. The cabinet tried to justify the proposed law saying that such protests stall work in public and private institutions. The law was criticized by several human rights organizations, including Amnesty International. It was never implemented.
The atmosphere remains extremely tense, with children as young as 12 years old fighting in the protests. Last week Human Rights Watch criticized Morsi’s poor treatment of protesters.
Both the Islamists and the NSF have been working furiously to educate the electorate and sway voters. Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party officials acknowledge that they did not receive much of the “yes” vote in Cairo, and have embarked on a street-based campaign. NSF members and the Apr. 6 movement continue to knock on doors.
The Secretary General of the Supreme Electoral Committee (SEC), Zaghloul Al Belshy, resigned on Tuesday. Sources informed Daily News Egypt that the resignation was as a result of the current situation in Egypt. The SEC confirmed the resignation, citing an emergency eye operation instead.
The SEC has since touted that, despite announcements by various Judges’ Clubs to boycott, 6,700 judges would to oversee the election. The opposition states the number is probably closer to 3,500 and they these will not be judges but lawyers. As a result of a 2006 ruling, they have a level of judicial power that can be applied in the case of elections and referendums.
On Wednesday, NSF leadership met with Aly Erfan, a member of the SEC Secretariat, to discuss judicial oversight of the referendum. The NSF called for allowing all observers who have the observer cards to monitor the voting process from the moment ballot boxes are opened to closing and counting the votes.
Additional demands by the NSF include the release of the names of all judges, which polling stations they will oversee, and the requirement that judges hang their identifications cards around their necks.
Prosecutor General Tala’at Abdallah, who was appointed after Morsi’s controversial Nov. 22 declaration, resigned on Monday. The resignation was not accepted and he revoked the resignation three days later. Sources have told Egyptian media that they believe that politicking by the Muslim Brotherhood had led to Abdallah rescinding his resignation.
The Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) continues to be vilified in the media by the Muslim Brotherhood and has hit back at a statement released by the Presidency to the media. The SCC cited “falsehoods and inaccuracies” and highlighted the fact that sit-ins by Morsi supporters had prevented them from attending work.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s prioritization of the Sunni rebellion in Syria remained atop the agenda this week. In spite of the NSF protests on Tuesday, joint representative of the United Nations and Arab League, Lahkdar Brahimi, visited Cairo. He met with Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr, primarily to discuss plans to establish a headquarters for the Syrian opposition coalition in Egypt.
Morsi continued with his strategy of tokenism and invited four leaders of the NSF to debate the proposed constitution on Friday. The NSF responded with indignation at the alacrity of the invitation midway through the referendum process. “What are we going to debate? … These guys have finished their job,” quipped Khaled Dawood, senior NSF member. Another Leader of the NSF, Amr Moussa said in a letter to the Constituent Assembly that there was not as much of a need for a debate as there is a need to face the reality that there is no national consensus over the draft constitution.
Nobel Laureat and NSF Coordinator, Mohammed ElBaradei, said in a national television address that the draft constitution allows the trials of civilians before military courts and threatens judicial independence, among other issues. He described the draft as disfigured and without a vision.
“Return the 1971 Constitution, form a new assembly to draft a constitution for all Egyptians, form a government with competent people… the ballot box is flawed because it is tainted by rigging,” ElBaradei said.
- Egypt’s Central Bank Governor Quits (abcnews.go.com)
- Egyptians vote on Islamist-backed constitution (foxnews.com)
- Egyptians Vote on Constitution, VP Resigns (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- Egypt votes in final phase of referendum on Islamist-backed constitution as vice president stands down (independent.co.uk)
- Distrust and apathy hit disputed referendum in Egypt (guardian.co.uk)