CTUWS calls for 'No' vote in the Egyptian Referendum

As Egypt votes today on the consitutional amendments the Muslim Brotherhood and the former ruling NDP call for a ‘yes’ vote. Many of the forces involved in the revolution are calling for a ‘No’ vote. Here is a statement by the CTUWS calling for a No’ vote.

"No for patching the constitution"

The Center for Trade Union and Worker Services (CTUWS), the voice of independent workers in Egypt, and the newly established Independent Trade Union Federation in Egypt, is calling for a “No” vote in this upcoming referendum. The CTUWS is declaring: “Vote No … to this constitutional patching effort”. In a statement released today, CTUWS is calling for Egyptian workers to reject the proposed constitutional amendments and to demand a new constitution that lays the foundations for a new Egypt.

Since the outbreak of the 25th January Revolution for freedom and justice, the Egyptian workers played a remarkable role in the massive demonstrations which took place in industrial cities calling to topple the regime. Then came the workers strikes of 9 and 10 February as the death blow which finished Mubarak’s authority.

The Egyptians are invited today to support the powers of the revolution, refuse the constitution amendments and call for a new constitution which establishes a new Egypt, freedom and equality.

The reasons to vote NO are as follows:

1. These amendments were previously proposed by the deposed President Mubarak so it is unseemly for this glorious revolution to adopt these same proposals. It jeopardizes the revolution’s legitimacy and it is totally unacceptable that the transition period to be administered by the proposals made by Mubarak.

2. The 1971 Constitution has been made null and void by the Egyptian revolution and it no longer has any legitimacy, and the legitimacy belongs to the Egyptian people since January 25.

3. The 1971 Constitution has become null and void with the resignation of the former president and his abdication of power. The power to rule Egypt was not transferred to the President of the People’s Assembly, or to the President of the Supreme Constitutional Court, but it was transferred to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, and this includes the overriding of the 1971 Constitution.

4. Bringing back to life again the 1971 Constitution and giving it legitimacy through making amendments to the main clauses will lead to many political disasters. Why?

a) We will be back again to the 1971 Constitution that gives enormous powers to the position of the Egyptian President. This cannot be accepted by the people after the 25th January revolution because the revolution did not intend to create another “new pharaoh”.

b) If the results of this referendum are the “approval” of the new constitutional amendments then there would be presidential and parliamentary elections in a time period that is not likely to yield free and fair results when the current security situation in Egypt has collapsed (is being re-built yet this takes time). The political party realities cannot recover so quickly after three decades of authoritarian rule with restrictions, fraud, corruption and lack of free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections and for such elections to be held twice in less than a year [The last elections were held in November 2010].

c) If the 1971 Constitution is restored after these proposed amendments are approved then the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces’ transitional rule becomes unconstitutional.

d) The referendum on these constitutional amendments all at once and not clause by clause is a form of an imperfect democracy, which is not acceptable. It is the right of every Egyptian citizen to accept or reject each amendment. These amendments are being presented as a “package” and that is not acceptable.

The CTUWS and Egyptian independent labor movement calls on workers to vote “No” to the constitutional amendments and to join all the mainstream revolutionary forces by demanding:

1. A temporary Constitutional declaration to administer the transition period that includes the demands of the revolution and determines the validity of the transitional government and the presidential civil council.

2. The formation of a civilian presidential council composed of 3 members (one should be from the military) and this “transitional government” would manage the affairs of the country and pave the way for legislative and presidential elections.

3. The formation of a committee of experts to draft a new constitution for the country.

4. Amend laws that supplement the Constitution, such as the Law on Political Parties and the Political Rights Law and the Law of the People’s Assembly and Shura Council. (The Shura Council is the upper house of Egyptian bicameral Parliament. Its name roughly translates into English as “the Consultative Council”. The lower house of parliament is the People’s Assembly.)

5. The abolition of the Shura Council that did not have any effective value or role in Egyptian political life.

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