FJP 2011 Program on Freedoms and Political Reform
|Sunday, December 4,2011 10:08|
Granting the people their deserved freedoms and establishing an enlightened viable political system set the rules and principles necessary to ensure a sound democratic political life where political parties and national stakeholders race in an honest, free and fair competition for the votes of the people, who are the source of authority. That is real pluralism which safeguards the people’s freedom to hold executive powers to account, and leads to a truly peaceful transfer and circulation of power, and thus achieves overall stability and provides a healthy environment for integrated development and social justice and real leadership that would lead us to establishing the features of the desired civil Islamic State.
This requires a new constitution, with enlightened principles of Sharia (Islamic law) as its frame of reference and the source to its articles and the subsequent changes in the legal system. This would safeguard for Egyptian citizens all their social, economic, political and other rights, without prejudice. For granting citizens their freedoms and rights is the way to engage their energies and abilities in active, effective participation and interaction in the progress, development and defence of their country. The wise and wonderful words of Omar still ring true across time: "When did you enslave people who were born free?!"
Our political reform program is based on the following principles and concepts:
First: Characteristics of the State
Second: The nature of the political system
Third: The fundamental political principles espoused in the program:
1. The principles of liberty, equality and equal opportunities.
3. Free and fair elections.
4. Accountability, responsibility and questioning authority.
5. Decentralised local government, and impartiality of the administration.
6. Safeguarding citizenship rights, and the maintenance of national unity.
7. Revitalising the role of individuals and civil society.
First: Characteristics of the state:
The State envisaged in our program is the national constitutional Islamic modern democracy, based on Sharia (Islamic law) as a frame of reference. By its nature, Sharia nurtures aspects of faith, worship and morality, and also regulates various aspects of life for Muslims and their non-Muslim partners in the homeland. However, in some (few) cases, Sharia regulates these aspects through definitive texts with direct relevance and significance. It can also regulate through general rules and principles, leaving details for interpretation and legislation as suits different times and environments, in the service of justice, righteousness and the interests of the homeland and citizens. This is to be entrusted to legislative councils, while the
A. The State is based on the principle of citizenship, where all citizens enjoy equal rights and duties guaranteed by law in accordance with the principles of equality and equal opportunities without discrimination because of religion or race.
B. The State is a constitutional one based on three pillars: the legislature, the judiciary and the executive authority. Each of these works in a differentiated, integrated and co-ordinated manner all at the same time, allowing distribution of responsibilities and authority, in order to prevent monopoly of those by any single entity. This constitutional State must preserve the rule of law by extending and strengthening the rule of the judiciary, safeguarding its independence and working to implement its decisions and provisions, in addition to ensuring that state authorities are subject to and regulated by the law. Any action by public authorities taken in violation of the Constitution and/or the law is considered void and requires accountability questioning.
C. The State is Democratic, based on the Shura (consultation) principles, which the FJP believes are essential for the foundation of the state with all its institutions. Shura is not merely a political principle governing only the forms of political relations. Indeed, it is a pattern of behaviour and a general approach to managing the various aspects of life in the State, in addition to being a frame of work for faith and a moral guide for the behaviour of individuals and their social relations, instilled in the hearts and minds of individuals, families, societies and the rulers, in order for it to become part and parcel of the patriotic character and an important ingredient thereof, and to engage all citizens.
D. The State is civil and civilian, for the Islamic State is civilian in nature. It is not a military state ruled by armed forces who get in power by military coups, and it is not ruled like a dictatorship, nor is it a police state controlled by the security forces, nor is it a theocracy - governed by the clergy or by Divine Right. There are no infallible people who can monopolise the interpretation of the Holy Koran and have exclusive right to legislation for the nation and are characterised by Holiness. In fact, the rulers in the Islamic state are citizens elected according to the will of the people; and the nation is the source of authority. The basis of appointment to all positions and functions in the State is competence, experience and the honesty. And just as it is the nation’s right to choose its ruler, legislators and representatives, it also has the right to question them and hold them accountable, to dismiss and replace them.
Second: The nature of the political system:
Our program deems the parliamentary system (in the long term) is the most appropriate to the circumstances of the country, as it is based on flexible separation between the authorities, with cooperation and balance between the executive and legislative branches. In this system, the President is the head of the State but does not rule, and the Prime Minister carries the responsibility of government, besides Parliament. The theoretical balance between the authorities is a result of the equality between the executive and legislative branches, the exchange of information, control, influence and cooperation.
However, the most appropriate system to
Third: The fundamental political principles espoused in the program:
1. The principles of liberty, equality and equal opportunities
Our elections program seeks to grant citizens the freedoms they deserve, to preserve the fundamental rights of every Egyptian, and change all practices or legislation that challenge or restrict these freedoms or violate these rights. Freedom is God's gift to all, regardless of colour, sex or belief, and it is a pre-condition of Taklif (accountability, obligation and responsibility according to capacity) and one of the greatest objectives of Sharia (Islamic law). For, indeed, Sharia grants humans all forms of freedom, especially freedom of belief, with which a human is to take responsibility for his choices. “There is no compulsion in religion” [Quranic Chapter 2 al-Baqarah: 25].
From this perspective, full freedom for the Egyptian people is a profound principle and a fundamental right. Hence, FJP representatives seek to:
1. Safeguard, for every Egyptian, fundamental rights and freedoms – indispensable in any advanced society and in the framework of genuine religious value system – as well as political and social freedoms – indispensable for the exercise of rights and improvement of communities.
2. Guarantee non-discrimination among citizens in rights and duties on the basis of religion, sex or colour.
3. Ensure women's access to all their rights, consistent with the values ??of Islamic law, maintaining the balance between their duties and rights,
4. Enact legislation which criminalises nepotism and favouritism, and provide practical procedures that guarantee equal opportunities.
5. Support and promotion of political pluralism as one of the assets of the political process, and establish the rules of partnership between the state and civil society organizations to carry burdens of rejuvenation and development of the homeland.
- Eliminating all forms of ‘exceptional’ justice, and tasking civil jurisdiction to adjudicate in all cases of civilians.
- Tasking the Supreme Judicial Council with jurisdiction in all affairs of the judges, including appointment, promotion, transfer, assignment and discipline.
- Separating the judiciary budget from that of the Ministry of Justice, and tasking the Supreme Judicial Council with determining expenditure aspects away from the control of the executive branch.
- Abolishing the President’s power as head of the Supreme Judicial Council.
- Appointing Chairman of the
- Making the Attorney General independent, and tasking the Supreme Judicial Council with selecting him/her; making prosecutors independent from the Attorney General in the judicial, not administrative work; separating the powers of investigation and prosecution; and restoring the investigating judge system.
- Appointing heads of the Court of Cassation and the
- Transfer of judicial inspection responsibility to the Supreme Judicial Council.
- Prohibiting assignment or secondment of judges to positions in ministries and executive branch authorities during their work in the judiciary, taking charge of governance.
- Upholding the authority of the general assemblies of the various courts and selecting all heads of primary courts, as well as the heads of courts of appeal by the Supreme Judicial Council.
- Referring cases to judicial departments in chronological order, and prohibiting the referral of specific cases to particular departments.
- Increasing the number of judges to speed up work; and committing to respect decisions and provisions and to implement them rapidly.
- Upholding the right of every citizen to start a lawsuit without stipulating the two conditions of “Relationship and Interest”.
- Considering that the Judges' Club is the official body representing them, and no-one has authority over it except its own general assembly. It must have a separate budget within the budget of the Supreme Judicial Council.
3. Free and fair elections:
This program seeks to complete the reform of the electoral process, to ensure that elections are truly free and fair, by enacting a ‘political rights’ law. This should include the following:
- The formation of an independent commission from purely judicial bodies, which should be non-dismissable, to oversee the complete management of elections and referenda as soon as the decision is made to invite the voters, should have control over all executive, local and security agencies related to the elections, and should cover all the stages of nomination, voting, counting and announcement of results.
- Arranging for Egyptian expatriates to cast their votes, ensuring the process’ integrity and impartiality.
- The imposition of strict penalties for fraud, manipulation or interference in elections, making this a crime exempt from the statute of limitations, and repudiation of all decisions and results based on such a crime.
- Setting precise controls for financial spending in the elections.
- Keeping the hands of security authorities off the entire electoral process, limiting their role to maintaining security and preventing friction between supporters of candidates.
- Allowing independent observers, civil society organizations and the media to monitor and cover all stages of the elections.
- Subjecting local elections to the same procedures as parliamentary elections.
4. Accountability, responsibility and questioning authority:
1. By abolishing the subordination of regulatory institutions and bodies to the executive branch, placing them under the legislative authority (i.e. the People’s Assembly), publishing their reports freely and with full transparency, and delegating to them authority to refer violations to the judiciary without requiring anyone’s permission.
2. Confirmation of full independence and absolute immunity of the judiciary, without exclusion or containment so that it can perform its role in establishing the rule of law and respect for the judiciary’s decisions and provisions.
3. Revitalising the role of public opinion in the process of monitoring the work of institutions by giving priority to freedom of the press and publication in the legislation, and upholding freedom of expression for individuals and groups.
4. Enacting a law for the trial procedures of Ministers in order to achieve justice and direct accountability, in confirmation of the principle of authority and responsibility, and in order to uphold the will of the people.
5. Considering the crime of failure to implement the decisions and provisions of the judiciary law, a felony punishable by imprisonment and dismissal.
5. Decentralised local government, and impartiality of the administration:
Our program aims to reform the system of local government so that:
1. Choosing a governor happens through free, direct elections, and providing elected members of the local People's Councils – to city levels – with all the means necessary of control, like questioning, requests for notification, interrogation, and requests for general debate and questioning, as well as the withdrawal of confidence, etc.
2. Elected local people's councils – to city levels – shall have the right to propose local fees and to control local budgets in the framework of the law and the State’s general plan.
3. Administrative apparatus of the state shall be a neutral, efficient body, competent in the service of the citizens with effectiveness and justice, and shall not be affected by the process of devolution or circulation of power.
6. Safeguarding citizenship rights, and the maintenance of national unity
In this respect, we affirm the constants and principles that we nurture and call for their protection, namely:
• that the Egyptians, Muslims and Christians, are integral parts of the fabric of the one homeland, with equal rights and duties, and without distinction or discrimination, and all together they must remove the injustice inflicted upon them.
• that the basis of citizenship is full equality before the Constitution and the law and fully sharing all rights and duties, with the exemption of personal status matters where "each has his own rules."
• that the Egyptians, Muslims and Christians, are partners in this homeland and builders of its civilization, rejuvenation, development and defence against all internal and external threats.
• that citizenship is a human principle that should be applied in a healthy climate, the basic criteria of which is compatibility with the identity and culture of the Egyptian people to the exclusion of all other peoples and nations.
• that we reject “sectarian strife” and consider it a phenomenon alien to our strong integrated society, and emphasise the importance of addressing and uprooting its causes, we also reject calls for foreign interference, and denounce the regime’s weak response to sectarianism, and call upon the government not to voluntarily give up its constitutional and legal powers in this respect, and we reject any internal or external pressure aimed at tearing the national fabric, in Islamic Sharia, the Almighty says: “Allah does not forbid you – about non-believers who do not fight you because of religion nor drive you out of your homes – from dealing kindly and justly with them. Indeed Allah loves those who act justly.” [Quranic Chapter 60, Mumtahinah: verse 8]
• that freedom of belief and worship are rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the law, and by Sharia (Islam law) even before them, and our fellow Christians must not be deprived of the right to build churches; and that it is essential to find a quick and just solution to the problems of unauthorized and unlicensed churches.
7. Revitalising the role of individuals and civil society:
The basis for reform in
We, therefore, seek to achieve the following:
1. Modifying the current associations law to allow the establishment of NGOs with straightforward notification.
2. Forming trade unions for all disadvantaged groups, like the Union of Imams and Preachers.
3. Abolishing the current trade unions law and enacting a new law to allow trade unions to manage their own affairs away from the ruling party or any political powers or stakeholders and to allow individuals to work without membership in these unions, and to achieve the balance between the freedoms of association and the risks of trade union fragmentation.
4. Setting effective controls for foreign or external funding to NGOs so it would not be used to interfere with or break the community. These controls should not stand in the way of serious work, they should help organize, supervise and safeguard
5. Supporting the advisory role of trade unions with regard to the State and the creation of common frameworks for such cooperation.