On the sidelines of the Alliance’s General Assembly, the “National Rally of Independents” of Morocco applied for membership in the Arab Alliance. The National Rally of Independents is considered one of the biggest political parties in Morocco. Founded in 1978, the National Rally always played a vital role in government and is currently the third biggest party in Parliament, where it is represented with 52 seats.
On Tuesday, 14th of January, and Wednesday, 15th of January, a referendum on the constitution was held. Egyptian liberal parties’, who are members in AAFD, were actively involved in the establishment of the new Constitution in the 50-member committee and thus are in support of the new constitutional draft. To view the constitutional draft click here: http://dostour.eg/.
Amr Moussa, president of the 50-member committee that is responsible for drafting the new constitution, highlighted his full support for the Constitution in a meeting with political activists as well as representatives of Arab and European liberal political parties. He stated that “the constitutional document, after amendments have been made to the 2012 constitution, is being increasingly supported”. According to Moussa, there is no serious opposition to the Constitution and he thinks that it will be supported by the majority. This is, according to him, because the “constitution is the beginning of solving internal problems and Egyptians know this quite well.”
In the course of the meeting, some political activists and representatives of Arab and European liberal political parties criticized the Constitution for not banning military trails for civilians. They also criticized the article stating that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) can select the defense minister.
Facing this criticism, Moussa said that military trials for civilians have a long history in the Egyptian Constitutions. Yet, according to Moussa, the new constitutional document is different as it specifies the crimes in which civilians can be subjected to military trials. Concerning the criticism that the new Constitution allows for the SCAF to select a defense minister, Moussa pointed out that this article is only transitionally valid for 8 years. According to Moussa, the establishment of this article was necessary in order to support the military in facing the country’s recent challenges.
Moussa also clarified that, although Sharia law is identified as the basic source of legislation in article 2, there are multiple articles on freedoms and rights in the new Constitution. According to him, “this constitution is civil and therefore advanced. It will have an impact on the region”. Commenting on a question of a Tunisian activist, Moussa added that Egypt’s system is indeed civil. However, there are those wanting to spread chaos in the country.
Iyad Shtayyeh, a Palestinian activist, asked about the elimination of the article on the percentage of workers and peasants’ represented in parliament. Moussa replied that “the previous article dictating the inclusion of 50 per cent of workers and peasant in parliament was a mirage, as this percentage included 49 percent of police officers and doctors that got their titles by legal and illegal means. The new constitution offers workers and peasants benefits that exceed what the 50 per cent offered them.”
A Moroccan activist asked about the marginalization of the Brotherhood and El Baradey. He emphasized that that the development in Egypt are worrisome and that the military articles might intimidate the Egyptians. Moussa replied that the new constitutional document does not marginalize anyone, unlike what happened with Brotherhood constitution.
In the course of the conference “towards a common liberal vision & program for the Arab world” Dr. Ahmed Saeed, President of Free Egyptians Party, announced the merger of the Free Egyptian Party with the Democratic Front Party. By doing so, Dr. Saeed expressed the hope that this merger will strengthen the parties’ position, thereby allowing it to win the majority in the upcoming parliamentary elections. He furthermore stated that “the economic crisis will not affect us and we will resume the roadmap, building our constitutional institutions. We will offer the world an example of optimism and of achieving miracles”.
Members of the International Federation for Liberal Youth and the Arab Youth Union for Freedom and Democracy (AYUFD) met on December, 14th, in order to develop a joint manifesto on the minimum principles of Liberalism. In this regard, the parties’ representatives agreed that freedom should be stressed as non-negotiable, common value that is uniting liberals throughout the world. In the course of the meeting, the International Federation for Liberal Youth also confirmed its recognition of AYUFD as the unifying body of regional liberal youth organizations in the Arab world.