Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

December 26, 2012

Egypt's government sets priorities after charter

(Continued)

"I congratulate the Egyptian people on behalf of the government for the passing of the constitution of the second republic, which establishes a modern democratic state where the people's voices are heard and where injustice, dictatorship, repression, nepotism and corruption take a back seat," Mahsoub told the session.

"At this critical time for the nation, this respected council is required to pass a set of laws for the state to complete building its institutions," he said.

Mahsoub called on the opposition to join in national reconciliation and participate in state institutions.

The main opposition group has rejected the constitutional process and questioned the legitimacy of the charter itself, saying it was rushed through without enough national consensus.

The largely liberal and secular opposition has rejected presidential appointments to the upper house. It says it will instead contest the upcoming parliamentary elections and hopes to achieve a sizeable representation to challenge the constitution.

The opposition will be watching the Shura Council to see whether new legislation increases civil liberties and addresses poverty and social inequalities — or increases the ability of the state to crack down on its critics and impose an Islamist rule, as many fear.

Critics say the new constitution enshrines Islamic rule in Egypt, restricts freedoms and ignores the rights of women and minorities.

Mahsoub addressed growing fears in Egypt of an impending economic crisis.

"The government reassures all about the economic situation," said Mahsoub. "We don't have an economic problem; essentially it is a political problem that is affecting the economic situation ... We call for reconciliation to impact positively on the economy."

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