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Egyptian panel votes on divisive charter

An Egyptian panel was yesterday rushing through approval of a new constitution at the centre of a political crisis pitting the Islamist president against the Opposition, which has threatened more protests.

By early evening, the constituent assembly, which has been boycotted by liberals and Christians, had approved almost half of the 234 articles, including a unanimous decision to retain the principles of Islamic law as the main source of legislation.

“We want a constitution we agree on,” said assembly chief Hossam al-Gheriani, adding that the panel had been “awaiting” boycotting members even as it went to the vote.

The Opposition, which has mobilised unprecedented rallies since Morsi assumed broad powers last week, accuses the president and allies in the constituent assembly of railroading the charter through for a quick referendum.

The Constitution will replace the one suspended after President Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow in early 2011.

Once it has been approved by the panel, it will be sent to Morsi, who must call a referendum on it, with one adviser saying that might happen within two weeks.

The Opposition mostly dis-agreed with the rushed manner in which the assembly was operating and opposes some of the draft charter’s provisions on rights and freedoms.

Christians objected to an article, yet to be approved, that seeks to narrow the meaning of “the principles of Islamic law” to the tenets of Sunni Muslim jurisprudence. (AFP)

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