Mohamed abdel Salam, the Al-Azhar representative on the 50-member constitutional panel and rapporteur of the basic constituents committee, denied the accuracy of allegations of altering the constitution that have arisen recently.
In an interview with Al-Masry Al-Youm, Abdel Salam said the statements made by Democratic Egyptian Party Chief Mohamed Abul Ghar claiming the committee members were surprised by the phrase “its government is civilian” are inaccurate.
According to state-run newspaper Al-Ahram's interview with Abul Ghar, controversy arose over Amr Moussa's alleged alteration substitution of the phrase “civilian rule” with “civilian government” right before the final vote, when the committee had decided not to discuss the document further. Abul Ghar said the same alteration was present in a version of the document distributed at a dinner for the committee members hosted by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces two days later, raising suspicion that the military may have intervened in the amendment.
The source of the controversy lies in the limited scope of the word “government” vs. “rule.” Government is more synonymous with cabinet in Arabic, and thus civilian government could potentially allow for military and religious (non-civilian) figures to be outside the cabinet, in the presidency and parliament. Civilian rule, on the other hand, would draw a bigger line between politics and the military/religious sectors.
Voting over the phrase took place twice, Abdel Salam said, adding that it was clearly uttered by the committee head. The aforementioned dinner was a kind of celebration after concluding the amendments, and the military did not publish copies of the draft constitution, according to him.
Shura Council Secretary General Farrag al-Dorry was the one who distributed the draft constitution copies among the committee members, he said. He noted that the military is not charge of distributing or print any document or draft constitution.
However, Abul Ghar confirmed on Tuesday that there was no problem over the preamble.
“The Orthodox Church representative read a draft distributed by military over the 50-member committee during the dinner,” Abul Ghar told the privately-owned TV channel CBC on Tuesday adding that he found that the phrase was changed. He also denied accusing armed forces of counterfeiting the draft constitution.