Egypt to hold referendum on draft constitution

Updated: 2012-12-02 08:38


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CAIRO - Egypt will hold a referendum on the newly-written draft constitution on December 15, President Mohamed Morsi announced on Saturday.

Morsi made the announcement at the Cairo International Conference Center during a meeting with 85 members of the beleaguered Constituent Assembly (CA), which approved the draft constitution Friday after a 17-hour marathon vote.

In his televised speech, Morsi extended his appreciation to the CA for their diligence, hailing the draft as a great success.

"The constitution you wrote is comprehensive and represents all Egyptian people. It minimizes the president's power and gives full respect of the independence of judiciary and legislative authority, " Morsi noted.

"I am proud of you all for your efforts. I thank you on behalf of myself and my people who elected me as their president," said Morsi.

However, due to the boycott of the 15 liberal and Coptic members of the CA in the voting, Friday's approval was criticized by some Egyptians who said the vote was illegal.

As for the 15 members who also boycotted Saturday's meeting, Morsi expressed his appreciation towards their contribution to the constitution, too, and called for a dialogue for national reconciliation.

Egypt had seen nationwide demonstrations against the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi who issued a new constitutional declaration late last month, granting him the nearly absolute power in Egypt.

According to the new constitutional declaration, all laws, decrees and constitutional declarations issued by the president since he came to office on June 30, 2012, are final and unchallengeable by any body.

Morsi, however, asserted Thursday that the declaration is only temporary, promising that it will be withdrawn as soon as the draft constitution is approved by Egyptians in the upcoming referendum.

Tens of thousands of supporters and opponents of Morsi flocked to squares and streets across the country to show their favor or anger over the president and his declaration.

According to the health ministry, as many as 47 people were injured Saturday in protests outside Cairo University and in Tahrir square. Among them, 44 were wounded in pro-Morsi protests, while three were injured in anti-Morsi protests in Tahrir square, official MENA news agency said.