Egypt starts amending constitution
Updated: 2013-07-22 08:16
Trying to burnish their democratic credentials, the Egyptian military has said the new constitution should be put to a referendum before planned parliamentary elections.
However, some analysts have expressed doubts about rushing to revise the text given the lack of political consensus that has clouded Egypt's faltering transition to democracy in the wake of the 2011 removal of veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
"The problem is not amending or drafting the constitution, the problem is deciding the direction the country is headed," said Zaid Al-Ali of International IDEA, a Stockholm-based intergovernmental organisation.
"Unless political agreement is reached between all of the major political actors in the country, we are going to head from one crisis to another," he said.
Despite the continued domestic tensions, the new government is trying to show the world that business is returning to normal in Cairo. On Sunday, the cabinet held its first meeting since being sworn into office last week.
"The people need to be informed candidly about the size of Egypt's problems, which require quick and decisive action," said a statement issued at the end of the gathering.
Egypt's finances are floundering: the budget deficit has widened to almost half of all state spending and foreign reserves totalled just $14.9 billion in June - representing less than three months of imports that the International Monetary Fund considers to be a minimum safe cushion.
Some of Egypt's Arab allies welcome Morsi's demise and have rushed to prop up the nation's coffers, however.
Egypt's central bank said on Sunday it had received $2 billion in funds from Saudi Arabia, the latest instalment of a $12 billion aid package pledged by Gulf Arab states.
The Egyptian stock exchange rose to a seven-week high on Sunday, encouraged by a lack of violence at weekend "anti-coup" protests in Cairo, hoping it indicated tensions are calming.
However, violence continued in the lawless Sinai peninsula, where three members of Egypt's security forces were killed on Sunday by armed men - the latest in a string of attacks blamed on Islamist militants opposed to the army.
Morsi was Egypt's first freely elected leader, but during his one year in office he drew criticism for failing to revive the ailing economy, restore security or build institutions. The Muslim Brotherhood say they were repeatedly thwarted by remnants of Mubarak's old government and forces hostile to them.