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Egypt assembly finalizes draft constitution, raises election concerns

Egypt's draft constitution was finalized on Sunday by a 50-member assembly, creating uncertainty about the country's election procedures. The draft dictates that elections are to take place within the first six months of the constitution's ratification. However, the draft does not determine whether a presidential election should be held before or after parliamentary elections. The assembly's silence on this issue will leave the decision to interim President Adly Mansour [BBC profile]. It is speculated that an early presidential election would help to establish electoral alliances that could help strengthen parties before parliamentary elections. The secular-based draft reflects a shift from the strong Islamic influence present at the time of Mohamed Morsi's [BBC profile] removal from office [JURIST report]. The draft is expected to be put to a referendum [JURIST report] no later than January.

Egypt has faced political unrest since the Egyptian Revolution [JURIST backgrounder] began over two years ago. The Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court announced in February that it had rejected parts of the draft election law [JURIST report] that will govern the country's parliamentary elections. Earlier that month the Supreme Constitutional Court postponed ruling [JURIST report] on whether the legislative constitutional assembly that recently drafted a new charter was legitimate. The judges claimed a crowd of Islamists outside the courthouse of had intimidated the judges and blocked the entrance to the courthouse. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in late January voiced concern [JURIST report] over the growing violence and rising death toll in Egypt stemming from ongoing protests throughout the country. Earlier in January recently disposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi declared a state of emergency in an attempt to quell growing unrest and violent political protests in cities a day after nationwide unrest compounded following an Egyptian court ruling handing down 21 death sentences [JURIST reports] for a 2012 soccer riot that resulted in 74 deaths and thousands of injuries.

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