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Terrorism & Security

Will Morsi's security request give Army renewed clout? (+video)

President Mohamed Morsi has asked the military, whose power he curtailed earlier this year, to help keep the peace as Egypt's Dec. 15 constitutional referendum nears.

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[Bassem Sabry, a writer who often focuses on Egypt's opposition,] says the new constitutional decree was not a compromise because it did not delay the constitutional referendum. After a contentious process that saw most non-Islamist members of the committee walk out, the committee announced abruptly less than two weeks ago that it would finish the document and put it to a vote.

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Europe Editor

Arthur Bright is the Europe Editor at The Christian Science Monitor.  He has worked for the Monitor in various capacities since 2004, including as the Online News Editor and a regular contributor to the Monitor's Terrorism & Security blog.  He is also a licensed Massachusetts attorney.

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Sabry says Egyptians need at least a month to mull the document, which rights activists and many opposition members call deeply flawed. Sabry also objects to the president's repeated use of constitutional declarations, the term used here for unilateral amendments, made by the executive, to the temporary constitution.

The Washington Post reports that it remains unclear whether the president's rescission really reversed course. The Post notes that "The new declaration, while voiding the old, contained an article that grants the president the right to make new decrees, free of oversight."

Expanding on his comments to the Monitor, Bassem Sabry writes that "The opposition and others ... do not believe that he has the legal power to issue such declarations," such as the ones issued on Nov. 22 and over the weekend.  Mr. Sabry adds that the president's refusal to delay the constitutional referendum is problematic, as the constitution is too complex to be understood in just a few days, even by those like himself who have been monitoring its evolution closely.

I have followed every document released by the assembly from day one, analysed and written about them, attended formal discussion groups on the documents, have studied relevant academic material in my education, and I – and others like me – are actually still discovering new perspectives about this document till this day! What would a normal citizen do? People need at least a month to study this document and make up their minds in an informed decision. Trying to rush the referendum appears to be an attempt to capitalise on current conditions to secure a yes vote. ...

The referendum has to be delayed, if there is any real desire by the administration for people to actually make some informed opinion of any kind. I have asked tens of current yes and no voters, and many are basing their decisions on things that are either inaccurate or had changed from previous drafts!

Regardless, the rescission satisfied at least one group of protesters: Egypt's judges. Independent Egyptian news site Bikya Masr reports that Egypt's judges, who had been on strike since Morsi's Nov. 22 decree, returned to work today.  Bikya Masr writes that according to Judge Zaghloul al-Balshi, head of judicial inspection, the judges had been angry "because of the constitutional decree and Morsi annulled that yesterday. Therefore there is no need for judges to suspend their work and as of tomorrow they will return to their work as usual.”

Bikya Masr adds that the judges will announce tomorrow whether they will oversee the upcoming constitutional referendum.

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