Cairo (AsiaNews) - The Salafist al-Nur party, Egypt's second largest Islamist party after the Muslim Brotherhood, said it would support a new constitution in the upcoming January 2014 referendum in order to spare the country "more anarchy".
"Al-Nur Party will take part in this referendum and will take part with "yes", out of our concern for bringing about stability," party chief Younes Makhyoun said in a news conference.
The al-Nur party is one of the most conservative factions of Egyptian Islam, but after the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi - one of the main leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood - it opted to support the government backed by General al-Sisi, aligning itself on the positions of al-Azhar and the Coptic Orthodox Church.
This move has created a rift within the party and with its former allies in the Muslim Brotherhood with whom they had a parliamentary majority until last June.
On 1 December, a 50-member expert panel presented the new draft constitution. Unlike the constitution adopted under President Morsi, this one will not be based on the 'Hadith' (reports on the deeds and sayings of Prophet Muhammad), but will include a reference to Sharia whilst guaranteeing respect for human rights, freedom of religion and freedom of worship.
Under the new dispensation, Christians, women, the disabled and other groups will have quotas.
The draft constitution also grants powers and privileges to the military, allowing it for example to prosecute civilians in certain cases despite stiff opposition from secular activists who played a leading role in the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak.
"It is an amended constitution. Generally speaking, the final result is acceptable for us," said Nader Bakkar, spokesman for Al-Nur, after the draft proposal was made public.
In recent months, the Muslim Brotherhood has being the driving force behind protests against the military and President Adly Mansour's interim government and is opposed to the new draft constitution presented by the Constituent Assembly.
In recent days, the anti-coup alliance, led by Mohammed Morsi supporters, issued a statement rejecting "as a total waste of billions of Egyptian pounds a potentially rigged and certainly unconstitutional referendum to rubber stamp the country's most important document".
Today, the Muslim Brotherhood is set to stage new protests against the interim government.
Meanwhile, the military has deployed armoured vehicles in Tahrir Square, Heliopolis (where the presidential palace is located) and Giza.