CAIRO (AP) — The chairman of a 50-member panel that drafted a new constitution for Egypt called Sunday on supporters of the country's ousted Islamist president to participate in next month's referendum on the charter.
"The constitution is for all Egyptians. There is no exclusion of any individual or group," Amr Moussa told a news conference. Mohammed Morsi's supporters "have to show the desire to join the Egyptians in their march ... they must show they are part of this nation and cooperate in taking Egypt out of this chaotic situation."
The new constitution is a significantly amended version of one that was adopted by a predominantly Islamist panel last year. The adoption of the new charter is the first step in a political road map announced in July by Egypt's military chief when he removed Morsi in a popularly backed military coup.
Morsi's supporters have been staging near-daily protests since his ouster. They often end in violence.
"Violence will not solve the problems, it will complicate them. ... We need calm and a quiet and candid movement toward the future," said Moussa, a longtime foreign minister and secretary-general of the Arab League. Addressing Morsi's supporters without naming them, he said: "They are acting against the interests of society."
Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood has yet to announce whether it will call on its supporters to boycott the Jan. 14-15 vote or rally for a "no" vote. It has repeatedly said, however, that removing Morsi was illegitimate, together with all steps taken since. The military-backed government is not taking any chances and Moussa re-affirmed that there would be no going back on the road map, which envisages parliamentary and presidential polls by the summer of 2014.
"We will press on along this road and with resolve and determination," said Moussa.
The official Middle East News Agency, meanwhile, reported Sunday that as many as 200,000 members of the security forces will be assigned to protect polling stations nationwide. It said they will include "combat teams" and reserve forces. Beside the polling stations, it said, they will protect key installations.
The draft constitution states that men and women have equal rights and that the state must ensure "appropriate" representation of women in public jobs and the judiciary. It also criminalizes torture, discrimination and inciting hatred. It asks the next parliament to adopt a law that would lift longtime restrictions on the construction and restoration of churches, thus allowing Christians — about 10 percent of Egypt's estimated 90 million people — to build and restore their places of worship.
It also stipulates that members of local councils include seats set aside for youths, women, farmers and workers as well as "suitable" representation for Egyptians with special needs as well as minority Christians.