Wednesday’s papers: Political parties meet over constitution, imprisoned blogger sends letter

The local press focuses Wednesday on a draft proposal of guidelines for a new constitution that has been the subject of much debate and controversy in recent months.

Independent newspaper Al-Shorouk reports that political parties and groups met with government representatives over the course of three hours to discuss basic constitutional principals and standards for the committee that will draft Egypt's next constitution.

The paper also writes that the document the committee is working on contains 22 articles, the most positive of which is the first article, which states that Egypt is a democratic, civilian country based on citizenship and the rule of the law. The draft proposal also states that legitimacy is the source of legislation and non-Muslims have the right to follow their own religions.
According to most participants, articles 9 and 10 regarding the military marred the document. The most discussed articles were those concerning Supreme Council of the Armed Forces powers, its role in "protecting the constitutional legitimacy," and its sole control over the military budget. Article 10 establishes a national defense council to protect the country. 
“These articles cancel the constitution and build a dictatorship; the armed forces should not be higher than the law,” says Aboul Ezz al-Hariry, member of People’s Coalition Party, according to Al-Shorouk. He also emphasized the importance of discussing the military budget in parliament and the revision of arms deals.
State-owned Al-Ahram writes that the constitutional committee will consist of 80 members who represent all segments of society: five members from the youth coalition, 10 women and five members from parties and independent candidates. The committee will also include constitutional law professors, members of various syndicates and civil associations.
The liberal Al-Wafd writes about a "split among political forces" following the constitutional document meeting. The paper quotes Deputy Prime Minister Ali al-Selmy as saying that "the main constitutional principles are not a creation of ours or a trick that we are trying to pass on the people, but a common method used by several other countries after their revolution for a new democratic launch."
Al-Gomhurriya leads with a story that says Islamists are missing from the talks and liberals disagree, while the Muslim Brotherhood states that the conference amounts to political bullying. Ahmed Abu Baraka, the legal counsel of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, says the conference aims to monopolize the next parliament's powers as it is the only institution that should choose the members of the constitutional committee. Abu Baraka accused the participants of opportunism and of attempting to hijack political power.
Meanwhile, Al-Shorouk publishes a letter to the paper from Alaa Abd El Fattah, the imprisoned activist and blogger detained by the military and accused of inciting the Maspero violence on 9 October, among other charges.

 "I never expected that after the revolution brought down the tyrant, I would be going back to his prisons," he writes in the letter. "All the memories are coming back to me, sharing a cell with eight inmates, the prison songs and the legal conversation." He recalls the first time he was detained along with 50 colleagues from the Kefaya movement and ends his letter by saying that the revolution won't succeed if the oppressed don't obtain justice.

Regarding parliamentary elections, Al-Shorouk also reports Supreme Council for Elections head Abdel Moez Ibrahim's announcement that Wednesday kicks off the election campaign period, which will end 48 hours before elections start on 28 November.
Egypt's papers: 
Al-Ahram: Daily, state-run, largest distribution in Egypt
Al-Akhbar: Daily, state-run, second to Al-Ahram in institutional size
Al-Gomhurriya: Daily, state-run
Rose al-Youssef: Daily, state-run
Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned
Al-Shorouk: Daily, privately owned
Al-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party
Youm7: Daily, privately owned
Al-Tahrir: Daily, privately owned
Sawt al-Umma: Weekly, privately owned
Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Nasserist Party.

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