This commentary was published in The Guardian on 21/03/2011
However, every regime has a legitimacy. An assault against the regime means an assault against the legitimacy on which it is based. This creates a need for a new legitimacy, responsive to the demands of the new system and its political and social relations. This is why the formulation of a new constitution following the demise of Egypt's old regime was a necessity.
The revolutionary force that overthrew Mubarak was a popular movement. It did not have the organisational and institutional leadership to take power and replace the regime of the president, and so this fell to the army. In other words, political power was transferred to the supreme military council on the basis of revolutionary, not constitutional, legitimacy.
On the basis of this, the army declared its support for the Egyptian people, its acquisition of a lawful mandate to rule during a transitionary period, and its determination to protect the gains and foster the aspirations of the people. They issued a statement confirming that their assumption of power would be for a limited period of six months, and that the constitution was to be suspended (not set aside) and then amended. Meanwhile, the sources of legislative authority – the people's assembly and consultative council – were dissolved.
At this point, it is essential that the constitutional political institutions are rebuilt along democratic lines. This is the task of the committee charged with amending the 1971 constitution, of which I am chairman.
On Saturday a referendum was held that put before the Egyptian people the committee's various amendments to the 1971 constitution that would return it to its former position until a new constitution reflecting the political situation could be drawn up.
The third result is the appearance of a new generation of young people, sweeping like a tidal wave into the heart of the political life of the country. As the political institutions are rebuilt on new democratic foundations, it is a generation whose impact will be evident in the coming months and years.