Egypt's draft constitution fails to achieve a key prerequisite of a democratic future for the country: civilian supervision of the army
Khaled Fahmy , Saturday 22 Dec 2012
"....I was looking forward to a constitution that clearly states that the minister of defence would be a civilian, embodying the notion of public supervision of the army. Instead, the constitution added a new article directly stating that the minister of defence must be an officer of the Armed Forces (Article 195).I hoped that the constitution would stipulate the right of an elected parliament to oversee the army’s budget, but instead the constitution assigned this sensitive duty to the National Defence Council which is membered by a majority of military personnel (Article 197).
I aspired for a constitution that clearly bans the trial of civilians in military courts, but instead Article 198 of the new constitution confirms this is possible.
I wanted the new constitution to clearly state that draft into the army is a national duty for the youth to serve the country and they can only be recruited to defend the homeland, in order to end the farcical practice of sending our drafted recruits to companies, restaurants and utilities run by the army for their own profit. But the constitution does not include any clause to this effect.
When we created a modern army at the beginning of the 19th century we were not able as a society to subject this genie to our will, and failed to curb its domination. In the 20th century, the lack of supervision by society of the army resulted in establishing a corrupt political regime that obstructed the transition to democracy and inflicted upon us a military defeat that is unlike any other in modern history.
After our revolution succeeded, we had hoped that we would write a constitution that avoided these mistakes and corrected these historic blunders for which we paid dearly. Instead, Hassaan and his colleagues in the Constituent Assembly gave us a retarded and oppressive constitution that fails to achieve one of our key and fundamental goals.
Therefore, despite Hassaan’s rant about humanity envying us for this document, we will not back down until we rescind this wretched constitution."