Military council greenlights change for 6 constitutional articles

Egypt's Supreme Military Council has commissioned a constitutional reform panel to change six articles of the Egyptian Constitution. The decision aims to safeguard the transparency of presidential and parliamentary elections that should be held within the next six months.

The decision adopted by the military authorizes the panel to consider the abolition of Article 179, along with amending articles 88, 77, 76, 189, 93, and all other relevant articles which may need to be removed to ensure the transparency of the electoral process.

Article 77 of the Constitution does not set a limit for presidency periods. Article 88 annuls judicial oversight over the elections. Article 93 meanwhile grants parliament sole authority for determining the legitimacy of MPs' memberships.

Article 189 gives the president and the People's Assembly an exclusive right to amend the constitution, while Article 179 on counter-terrorism restricts people's freedoms and rights.

The military council said in a statement that the panel should conclude its work within ten days following the authorization.

Ousted president Hosni Mubarak had issued a similar decree concerning  the same articles before he resigned on 11 February, but his move did not appeal to protesters, who preferred a new Constitution.

The military appointed the panel members on Monday, selecting Tarek al-Beshry, a moderate Islamist and former judge, as chairperson.

The panel includes Sobhy Saleh, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest Islamist opposition group. The selection of Saleh has caused some concern among the country's Copts and secularists.

Coptic activists also expressed reservations over the choice of al-Beshry, saying that his stance toward Copts is causing them some anxiety over the potential amendments.

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