Egypt's contentious constitution becomes law
After being approved by a 64 percent vote in a referendum, Egypt's Islamist-backed constitution was signed into law by President Mohamed Morsi Wednesday.
(Page 2 of 3)
Nevertheless, major opposition groups have not called for new protests, suggesting that weeks of civil unrest over the constitution may be subsiding now that it has passed.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Mursi, catapulted into power by his Islamist allies this year, believes adopting the text quickly and holding the vote for a permanent new parliament will help end a protracted period of turmoil and uncertainty that has wrecked the economy.
Mursi's government argues the constitution offers enough protection to all groups, and that many Egyptians are fed up with street protests that have prevented a return to normality and distracted the government from focusing on the economy.
The constitution gives Egypt's upper house of parliament, which is dominated by Islamists, full legislative powers until a vote for a new lower house is held. The chamber convened on Wednesday for the first time since the constitution's adoption.
The government has begun a series of meetings with businessmen, trade unions, non-governmental organisations and other groups to persuade them of the need for tax increases and spending cuts to resolve the country's financial crisis.
Mursi has committed to such austerity measures to receive loans from the International Monetary Fund.
While stressing the importance of political stability to heal the economy, Mursi's government has sought to play down economic woes and appealed for unity in the face of hardship.
"The government calls on the people not to worry about the country's economy," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mohamed Mahsoub told the upper house in a speech.
"We are not facing an economic problem but a political one and it is affecting the economic situation. We therefore urge all groups, opponents and brothers, to achieve wide reconciliation and consensus."
Mursi is due to address the upper house on Saturday in a speech likely to be dominated by economic policy.
Sharpening people's concerns, the authorities imposed currency controls on Tuesday to prevent capital flight. Leaving or entering Egypt with more than $10,000 cash is now banned.