Pillay alarmed by Egyptian developments

Dec. 7, 2012 at 11:22 AM

GENEVA, Switzerland, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- "The last thing" a post-revolutionary Egypt needs is mass demonstrations against the country's draft constitution, a top U.N. rights official said.

At least six people were killed and another 600 injured in clashes in Egypt this week. Egyptian news service al-Ahram reports tanks were in the streets Friday to protect the perimeter of the presidential palace as demonstrations continued in Cairo.

"This is the last thing Egypt needs during such a difficult period of transition but I believe people are right to be very concerned," said U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in a statement Friday.

She welcomed a pledge by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to speak with opponents expressing frustration with the constitutional process. Some political groups and movements have said they're marginalized in an Egypt dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, from which Morsi hails.

Pillay, however, said that while the draft constitution provides "some" guarantees on human rights, there were also some "very worrying emissions."

"In some areas the protections in it are even weaker than the 1971 Constitution it is supposed to replace," she said.

The Egyptian government said it would let the people decide for themselves in a national referendum Dec. 15.

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