Egypt approves new draft constitution

CAIRO – Egypt’s Constituent Assembly has approved the final draft of the country’s first constitution after the ouster of autocratic ruler Hosni Mubarak.

The assembly’s marathon session began on Thursday and came to end early on Friday, with the members voting for all the 234 articles of the charter. 

The final draft will be sent to President Mohamed Morsi for approval on Friday, who is expected to submit it for a popular referendum. 

The panel upheld Islamic principles as the main source of legislation in the country. “Islam is the state religion, and the Arabic language is its official language. The principles of Islamic sharia are the main source of legislation,” an agreed clause read.

The assembly also approved a clause stating that the principles of Christian and Jewish legal traditions would guide their personal and religious affairs. 

Muslim Brotherhood – whose candidate won the presidential vote six months ago – hopes the move will help end protests against the president. 

On November 22, Morsi signed a controversial decree allowing him to “issue any decision or law that is final and not subject to appeal.” The declaration also prohibits courts from challenging the president’s decisions. 

He also ordered a retrial of security officials involved in the deadly crackdown of popular protests that toppled longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak in early 2011. 

The move drew calls for nationwide protests from opposition forces who branded the declaration as “a coup against legitimacy” and “a major blow on the revolution that could have dire consequences.” 

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