Egypt's contentious Islamist constitution becomes law

Wed Dec 26, 2012 2:48pm EST
 
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By Shaimaa Fayed and Yasmine Saleh

CAIRO (Reuters) - President Mohamed Mursi admitted on Wednesday that Egypt's economy faces serious problems after he enacted a new, bitterly contested constitution that is supposed to help end political unrest and allow him to focus on the financial crisis.

The president said the economy also had great opportunities to grow, but earlier the Egyptian pound tumbled to its weakest level in almost eight years as ever more people rushed to buy dollars and withdraw their savings from banks.

Mursi, catapulted into power by his Islamist allies this year, believes that adopting the constitution quickly and holding elections to a permanent new parliament soon will help to end the long period of turmoil that has wrecked the economy.

The presidency announced on Wednesday that Mursi had formally approved the constitution, which was drafted by his Islamist allies, the previous evening, shortly after results showed that Egyptians had backed it in a referendum.

Keen to be seen as tough but fair, Mursi said it was time for all political forces to put aside their differences and start working together to bring economic stability.

"I will make all efforts, together with you, to push forward the economy which faces huge challenges and has great opportunities to grow," Mursi said in his first address to the nation since the adoption of the constitution.

The text won about 64 percent in a two-stage referendum, paving the way for a new parliamentary vote in about two months.

The main opposition group, which has until now boycotted all rounds of national unity talks led by Mursi's office, said it had not changed its position.   Continued...

 
A general view shows the Shura Council during its meeting in Cairo December 26, 2012. The Islamist-dominated upper house of parliament (Shura Council), which now holds legislate power, is meeting for the first time on Wednesday, under the newly-approved constitution. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih