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Tens of thousands Egyptians continue to protest across the country after a draft for a new constitution was hastily approved on Friday.
All 234 articles of the constitution were approved after a 19-hour session. Time reports 75% of the assembly delegates were Islamists. Liberals, Christians, and other members withdrew from the assembly. Those who resigned protested limits on religious freedoms and said their voices weren’t being heard.
Protests originally started when President Muhammad Morsi passed a decree granting himself decisive and “sweeping” power over the nation.
Sessions began on Thursday to approve the draft for a new constitution. Each article passed with large margins.
The new constitution draft covers the president’s powers, the military’s role, human rights, and Islam’s status. The draft also limits the presidential term to eight years. The constitution keeps “the principles of sharia” as the basis for legislation.
Head of the assembly Hossam el-Gheriyani said, “This is a revolutionary constitution.”
“This constitution represents the diversity of Egyptian people. All Egyptians, male and female, will find themselves in this constitution. We will implement the work of this constitution to hold in high esteem God’s law, which was only ink on paper before, and to protect freedoms that were not previously respected,” said a representative of Muslim Brotherhood, Essam el-Erian.
Protestors critique the draft saying it fails to fully cover the rights of women and freedom of speech. They also believe the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist allies overtook the assembly and rushed the vote.
“It was a very strange way they voted. None of the 80 had objections, and if one of them did accidently open his mouth, al-Ghiryani is there to shut him up,” Salwa Mustafa protestor in Tahrir on Friday told Associated Press reporters.
Protestors took to Tahrir Square, streets in Alexandria, and other cities across Egypt. They chanted “Constitution: Void!” and “The people want to bring down the regime.”
“We fundamentally reject the referendum and constituent assembly because the assembly does not represent all sections of society” Sayed el-Erian, a protestor in Tahrir told Reuters.
The constitution will not be official until it passed by popular vote. If the vote on the draft does not pass, the process will begin again.
Morsi is predicted to announce the voting date on Saturday.
He announced on state aired television on Thursday evening, “The most important thing of this period is that we finish the constitution, so that we have a parliament under the constitution, elected properly, an independent judiciary, and a president who executes the law.”