Six months after the military coup which ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, Egyptians have been called upon to vote yet again on a new constitution. The draft contains less Islam and more civil rights. But it also gives more power to the military. So will the new constitution bring more democracy, or does it cement the control of the military under General Abdel Fattah al-Sissi?
Mohammed Morsi was democratically elected, but his government was authoritarian. The constitution introduced under Morsi was heavily criticized for edging Egypt towards theocracy and for giving wide-ranging powers to the president and his Muslim Brotherhood.
By contrast, the amended constitution which has been put to a referendum puts considerable power in the hands of the military, as was the case during the thirty years of Hosni Mubarak's rule. The army will be able to name the defense minister, and the civilian authorities will have no power of veto over the generals' choice. The military budget and details of the army's involvement in many areas of the economy will remain exempt from democratic scrutiny.
Under the new constitution, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Freedom and Justice Party with which it is closely linked would be further criminalised and kept out of the political process. The same would apply to the Salafist Al-Nour Party. All political organisations with a religious basis would be banned. The military has also taken a repressive line against anyone campaigning for a No vote in the referendum. The Muslim Brotherhood has called for people to boycott the vote.
So is Egypt's new constitution a genuine chance to relaunch democracy in the country? Or is its only possible purpose to legitimize military rule?
Tell us what you think: Egypt - Legitimizing the Coup
Ahmed Badawi is a researcher and political analyst. He is the Co-Executive Director of Transform, a Berlin-based organisation specialising in conflict resolution and political development. He previously worked for the International Crisis Group, the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Oxford Research Group and Zentrum Moderner Orient. In 1991-1999 he worked in Egypt as a print and TV journalist. He has a Doctorate in Political Science from Humboldt University in Berlin and an Master in Development Studies from the University of London. .
Asiem El Difraoui studied politics and economics in Cairo, London and then Paris, where he received his Ph.D. He worked as editor in chief for IP Productions, a news agency focusing on the Middle East and the Arab world. He has written numerous prize-winning documentary films and news reports. He formed part of the Middle East and Africa research group at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, focusing on jihadist propaganda on the internet. He is currently a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Media and Communication Policy in Berlin. His latest book deals with Egyptian society after the revolution.
Tom Goeller - born 1958, he studied American History and Politics at the University of Bonn/ Germany. He has been a journalist for various media, among them BBC and ARD. From 1997 to 2004 he was a political analyst of international affairs with the German Weekly "Das Parlament" and the US correspondent in Washington, D.C. From November 2004 until end of 2010 he was the correspondent for Germany of the US daily “The Washington Times” and of the Egyptian monthly "Egypt Today". He now works as a freelance journalist and political analyst of US and Middle Eastern, as well as security affairs.