Factbox: Egypt's draft constitution

Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:13pm EST

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(Reuters) - Here is a look at Egypt's proposed new constitution, drafted by an assembly that raced to pass it, voting on each of 234 articles in a marathon session that ended early on Friday.

* BACKGROUND - The text was rushed through during a struggle between President Mohamed Mursi and the judiciary that sharpened on November 22 when the Islamist leader assigned himself sweeping new powers and halted court challenges to his decisions, provoking nationwide protests. Mursi has said his extra powers will lapse once the constitution is adopted in a referendum.

* OVERVIEW - The draft provides for basic protections against arbitrary detention and torture and for some economic rights. But, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch, it fails to end military trials of civilians or to protect freedom of expression and religion.

* POWERS - The constitution limits the president to two four-year terms. The president must secure parliament's approval for his choice of prime minister. The head of state can declare war with parliament's approval, but must consult a newly defined national defense council, in which generals outnumber civilians.

* RELIGION - Sharia, or Islamic law, remains the main source of legislation. Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's top authority, is to be consulted on "matters related to sharia". In personal status affairs, Christians and Jews would follow their religious codes. Religious freedom is limited to Muslims, Christians and Jews.

* WOMEN'S RIGHTS - The draft drops an earlier article linking women's rights to sharia. But it does not mention women in an article prohibiting discrimination, saying only: "Citizens are equal before the law and equal in rights and obligations without discrimination." (Reporting by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit, Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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