Draft Egypt constitution curbs president's powers

CAIRO - The authority of Egypt's head of state will be curbed by parliament, according to a partial draft of the new constitution released on Wednesday, a change that would dilute the pharaonic presidential powers that underpinned decades of one-man rule.
The new constitution is a major component of a transition from military-backed autocracy to a democratic system of government that Egyptians hoped would follow the popular uprising that swept Hosni Mubarak from power last year.
Yet its drafting has been marred by bickering between Islamists and secular-minded Egyptians over the role Islam should play in the government of the Arab world's most populous country. The debate has touched on the rights of women, religious minorities and freedom of expression.
Many important questions were left unanswered in the partial draft which the drafting assembly released on Wednesday for public debate. It did not mention the degree to which civilian institutions would have oversight over the military, for example.
"We call on Egyptian society ... all over the country to take a copy of the first draft with a pen in their hand and say this article is good, this article is bad, this article can be better, I suggest this, and so on," said Mohamed Beltagi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party who sits on the constitutional assembly.
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