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Continuing the reform process in Egypt

On 22 November Egypt’s President, Mohammed Morsi, issued a constitutional decree exempting his edicts from judicial review until ratification of a new Egyptian constitution. This expansion of presidential power caused widespread opposition in Egypt. There were protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square the day after the decree. There have been demonstrations and some clashes in other Egyptian cities as well.

Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle expressed his concern over the recent events and decisions in Egypt. On 26 November in Berlin, he said he found the situation in Egypt worrying. He said that he shared the qualms of many Egyptians and the international community. On 24 November, only short time after Morsi’s decision and the start of protests in Egypt, Westerwelle said that it was crucial that the ideals of the revolution that led to the downfall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime not be lost “in the course of the transformation process”. Germany, he said, considered it important that Egypt pursue its path towards democracy.

Westerwelle underlined Morsi’s important role in negotiating a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel and now called on Egypt’s leaders to “seek domestic harmony”. It was not just a question of being willing to enter into dialogue with the judges, but to consider their legitimate points “keeping in mind how necessary the separation of powers is”.

The most recent developments have also been a cause of concern to Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel. On the international level, both the European Union and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay voiced apprehension as well. Talks between Morsi and the Supreme Council for the Judiciary on 26 November did not produce results. The opposition has announced plans for a large demonstration in Tahrir Square on 27 November.

Support on the path to democracy

Since the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime, Egypt has been undergoing a process of transformation. Germany is supporting the country on its path of democratic reforms within the framework of a transformation partnership. Westerwelle considers Egypt to be a key country in the region and travels there regularly. Most recently, the German Foreign Minister was there on 20 November for talks with his Egyptian counterpart Mohamed Kamel Amr during efforts to secure a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel.

With President Morsi’s constitutional decree of 22 November, all of the President’s constitutional declarations, laws and decrees from the period between his taking office (30 June 2012) until a constitution is adopted and a new parliament elected will not be subject to judicial review. The declaration severely limits the role of the judiciary in all constitutional matters during the current period of transition. This gave cause for concern in terms of constitutional law.

More on Germany’s support for democratic change in Egypt


Last updated 27.11.2012