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SCAF's advisory council won't pick constituent assembly: El-Awa

Islamist presidential contender Selim El-Awa assures critics parliament, and not new advisory board appointed by the military council, will choose those who will write the constitution

Ahram Online, Saturday 10 Dec 2011
Selim El-Awa
Islamic thinker and presidential hopeful Selim El-Awa (Photo: Ahram)
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Selim El-Awa, a member of the new advisory council to the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), denied in a press conference Friday that the new body that the military junta created will have a say in the new constitution.

El-Awa, a leading Islamist presidential hopeful, also said that the SCAF is expected to release an official statement confirming his assertions.

SCAF member Major General Mukhtar Mulla told journalists on Thursday that the ruling junta, and nobody else, would have the final say on the constitution.

Mulla also seemed to hint that the new advisory council, and not just parliament, would be given a say by SCAF in the makeup of the constituent assembly which would draft Egypt's new constitution.

This set off alarm bells throughout constituents.

Mulla argued that a role for the advisor council in choosing members of the constituent assembly would make it more representative and balance the impact of Islamists’ success at the polls.

Mulla’s statements led the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, who won out greatly in the first round of parliamentary elections, to withdraw their representatives from the advisory board.

El-Awa, however, explained on Friday that the new advisory council, which will assemble for the first time on Sunday, will simply set the criteria for choosing the constituent assembly that will draft the new constitution, stressing that this would be different from the process of choosing the assembly members themselves.

El-Awa insisted that the council will help set objective criteria for choosing the constituent assembly but abstain from naming individuals.

"Setting criteria is different from hand-picking assembly members, which will be left up to the parliament," he clarified.

He added that the advisory board is not in any way to replace the parliament and expressed his belief that such an infringement on the elected parliament will not only be rejected by its members, but by the nation as a whole.

Under criticism for heavy-handedness and ignoring the demands of the people during the revolution, SCAF appointed a 30-member advisory board to help it run the country following last month’s clashes in Tahrir Square between protesters and the police which left 40 dead and several thousands injured.

Thirty political figures currently sit on the newly-formed advisory council.

Those include: former Arab League chairman Amr Moussa; former prime minister Abdel Aziz Hegazi; former ministers Mansour Hassan and Ahmed Kamal Abu El-Maged; Islamist Wasat Party Chairman Abu El-ela Madi; Al-Nour Party Chairman Emad Abdel Ghafour; Coptic Christian billionaire Naguib Sawiris and Actors’ Syndicate Chairman Ashraf Abdel Ghafour.

Several well-known political figures have already rejected the offer by SCAF to serve on the council such as Ahmed Shaaban of the National Assciation for Change.

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