Egypt’s draft constitution lets military choose key minister

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The latest edition of the Egyptian Constitution guarantees the military the right to choose its own defense minister, at least for the next eight years, and that provision has some legal minds worried that the stage could be set for the creation of a tightly controlled military state.

“This just paves the way for a bigger role for the army in becoming the main power broker,” said Hossam el-Hamalawy, a leading Revolutionary Socialists movement member and a key player in the toppling of former President Hosni Mubarak, Ynet News reported.

But other political players say the draft is a good step toward a smooth government transition and is a much-needed solution for nation that’s been engaged in infighting over the recent coup against Mohammed Morsi, the president who took over for Mr. Mubarak but lasted only about a year.

Part of the backlash against Mr. Morsi was that his Muslim Brotherhood ties were too strongly influencing his politics and he was trying to implement a strict Islamist rule. Now feathers are being ruffled that the power shift might be slanted in a different direction, in favor of the very military that ousted Mr. Morsi.

The existing government structure, backed by the military, says not to worry — that the draft also contains curtailments on the army’s power and that the overall tone and text of the document are pro-democracy, Ynet News reported. Pro-draft supporters also say the document includes specific protections for individual liberties, though opponents argue that any protections easily could be mooted by the military.

The document was prepared by a 50-member panel of political heads who wrapped their work on Monday. Within 30 days, the nation will decide whether or not to ratify the terms of the draft, Ynet News said.

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