“These changes that the army wants to make to the Constitutional Declaration shouldn't be allowed,” independent presidential candidate Khaled Ali said in a press conference on Monday.
Ali, a former human rights lawyer, broke the 48 hours of campaign silence ahead of the polls to protest against a possible “disaster”. He asserted that his statements were not contrary to the electoral code – the issue was too important not to raise publicly.
“It's not about the power given to the president,” he said. “It’s about the effect on the democratic nature of the constitution.”
Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) had warned that unless a constituent assembly charged with drafting a constitution was formed by Sunday, it would take matters into its own hands, according to reports.
Ali had hoped to form a common political position against the military’s proposed changes with a group of united presidential contenders. However, he was the sole presidential challenger to turn up at a busy press conference in downtown Cairo.
Presidential frontrunner Abdel Moneim Aboul Foutouh chose instead to issue a statement on his website.
“No entity has the right to issue or amend articles in the interim constitution without consulting the Egyptian people,” said Aboul Foutouh, careful not to explicitly direct his comments at the ruling military council.
“The interim constitution was created to operate during the transitional period only, until the people agree to a new constitution,” said Aboul Foutouh, a liberal Islamist candidate, popular with young people.
“I ask those who are responsible for ruling during the transitional period to deliver on their promises as quickly as possible,” he added.
Political parties have been meeting to try to reach an agreement on changes to be made to the interim constitution. But no consensus has been achieved.
In the Al-Shorouk newspaper on Monday, Tarek al-Beshry, a moderate Islamist writer and former judge, said any changes to the Constitutional Declaration are unconstitutional.
Al-Beshry explained that the interim constitution outlined that the army would not create legislation. In an editorial in the liberal newspaper, he said that the parliament would do this once it was place. The military council will lose its executive powers once the new president is in place.
The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has not yet made an official statement on changes to the interim constitution or said whether that will happen before the presidential polls.