Egypt’s new constitution would strengthen the army’s hand and could ban Islamist parties outright, according to a final draft published in state media.

One human rights lawyer said it reinforced the army’s status of state within a state.

A referendum on the constitution expected in December would be a milestone in the army’s plan for political transition after it deposed Mohammed Mursi in July.

The process would culminate in parliamentary and presidential elections next year.

One protester was killed on Thursday in clashes between Mursi supporters and security forces at Cairo University, a reminder of tensions simmering at the surface of Egyptian political life. The government passed a law on Sunday that restricts demonstrations.

The new constitution would replace the one signed into law by Mursi last year after it was passed in a referendum. That constitution was suspended when Mursi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, was deposed after protests against his rule.

The committee chaired by former Arab League chief Amr Moussa has only two Islamists, one of them a member of the hardline Nour Party and the other a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood who backed the army’s move against Mursi.

The Brotherhood, the focus of a fierce crackdown since Mursi’s downfall, has declared the entire political roadmap null and void, saying it is the result of a military coup.

While the last constitution largely preserved the military’s privileges, the new draft appears to go further.

A text published by the state-run Al Ahram newspaper on Thursday says the choice of defence minister must be approved by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces for a period of eight years from the time the constitution is passed into law.

“This means that the army will be a state inside the state,” human rights lawyer Gamal Eid said.

It also allows for civilians to be tried in military courts – a holdover from previous constitutions and a major source of friction with pro-democracy activists who earlier this week held protests against the provisions. see more

source: khaleetimes