Process of building a new Egypt has only just begun
Following weeks of clashes in Egypt and the referendum held on 15 and 22 December, a new constitution has entered into force.
Counting the votes from the referendum on 22 December
© picture alliance / abaca
Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle stated on 26 December that Egypt found itself at the start of a process which could “lead the country to genuine democracy, pluralism and rule of law”. He went on to say that the constitution had gained the support of a clear majority but there had been many votes against and the turnout had been low. Westerwelle called on all sides to now help “build a new Egypt in a spirit of reconciliation, inclusiveness and tolerance”.
In late November, the constitutional assembly adopted a draft constitution in the absence of liberal and secular representatives. This draft was put to the vote in a referendum on 15 and 22 December; a majority of 63.8 per cent of those who voted were in favour of the draft, with less than one third of the electorate casting their votes. The constitution entered into force on 26 December. Under this draft constitution, Islam is the state religion and the principles of Sharia law the main source of legislation.
Session of the Shura Council, 26 December
© picture alliance / ZUMA Press
President Morsi appointed 90 new members of the Shura Council, the Egyptian upper house, on 20 December. They do not include members of the opposition. The other members gained their seats in elections at the beginning of the year. The now 270 members of the upper house are exercising legislative powers in the period between the adoption of the constitution and the first session of the People’s Assembly, the lower house of the Egyptian Parliament, which is to be newly elected.
The People’s Assembly elected in late 2011 was dissolved in June. Now that the new constitution has entered into force, the elections for the new People’s Assembly are to take place within the next 60 days.
Appeal for dialogue
The dispute about the constitutional process threatens to divide Egypt
© picture alliance / dpa
After the referendum, Westerwelle once again called on President Morsi to enter into dialogue. He said on 26 December that Morsi now had to “engage with all sections of society and seek political compromises which include all Egyptians, thus gaining their support”. Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, also called on all forces to Egypt to engage in dialogue.
Previously, Westerwelle had warned on several occasions that the constitutional process should not divide the country, rather it had to unite it. He also stated that all sides in Egypt had to engage in dialogue in order to resolve political problems.
Support for Egypt’s path to democracy
Foreign Ministers Kamel Amr and Westerwelle
© photothek / Hünerfauth
Westerwelle believes that Egypt is a key country in the region. On 29 November, there was a meeting of the German Egyptian Steering Committee chaired by the Foreign Ministers of the two countries. On the fringes of the consultations, Westerwelle said that Germany wanted to help Egypt’s development towards prosperity and democracy.
In a Joint Declaration of the Steering Committee, the two sides agreed to continue implementing the transformation partnership and to further develop bilateral relations right across the board.
Last updated 27.12.2012