February 8, 2011
Egypt's Constitution: More on Presidential Election
There is continuing discussion of the relevance of the Constitution of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the present situation on Egypt, with banners such as the one pictured left (via) which reads "leave" in Arabic.
In our last post, we quoted Article 76, which governs the election of President and recommended an article by Kristen Stilt. Check out the comments to the post.
Another helpful discussion is by Nathan Brown, who spoke on NPR this morning: It's four and a half minutes worth listening to here Brown's post over at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace outlines the "three choices" if Egypt's President Muburak were to resign:
1. Follow the constitution and wind up with the regime handpicking a successor after 60 days for a full presidential term. That hardly resolves anything. The procedures are written in such a way that Sulayman could be nominated, but it would break the promise both Mubarak and Sulayman made for constitutional reform. This procedure would not even put lipstick on the regime's current face.
2. Follow the constitution with the promise that the new president (presumably Sulayman) pick up the constitutional reform process. That puts the crisis on hold for 60 days and offers the opposition promises for reform that might be redeemed later -- and might not be. This would put lipstick on, but not much else, particularly given the toxic lack of trust in the regime's promises.
3. Suspend the constitution and negotiate a transition between the current regime leaders and the opposition. And then we are in regime change territory, operating outside the existing rules. If the process were successful, it would not produce merely a reconfigured regime but would be moving toward a different kind of political system. The opposition has made clear that it wants such an outcome, but it has not sketched out any vision in detail. The negotiations over transition would be difficult and confusing, demanding that the opposition transform its negative platform (Mubarak must leave) into a positive one.
Brown updates these choices with a fourth "ingenious" solution: deputizing the current Vice-President, Omar Sulayman to serve as President. For others, such as Jane Mayer in the New Yorker, Omar [Sulayman] Suleiman's involvement as the head of Egypt's intelligence service and involvement with the US in extraordinary rendition casts doubt on his acceptability.
Additionally, Clark Lombardi has been posting some thoughtful analysis over at Comparative Constitutions, including tackling the large question about the relevance of "a constitution" during regime change. For an indepth and scholarly consideration, Tamir Moustafa's The Struggle for Constitutional Power: Law, Politics, and Economic Development in Egypt (Cambridge University Press, 2007) comes highly recommended by ConLawProf Miguel Schor.
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I have some related (a bit broader than focus on constitutionalism as such) recommended reading here:
And what Cairo University's law faculty think about such things here: http://ratiojuris.blogspot.com/2011/02/on-orderly-transition-from-non-violent.html
Posted by: Patrick S. O'Donnell | Feb 8, 2011 6:58:13 PM