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Egypt's Constituent Assembly referred to High Constitutional Court

Status of charter-drafting body remains in doubt after Administrative Court refers case on fate of Constituent Assembly to High Constitutional Court

Ekram Ibrahim , Tuesday 23 Oct 2012
Constituent assembly
The Constituent Assembly tasked with drafting Egypt's new constitution (Photo: AP)
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Egypt's Administrative Court on Tuesday referred a lawsuit on the fate of the Constituent Assembly to the High Constitutional Court. The decision means the status of the constitution-drafting body remains uncertain.

The court will rule on the constitutionality of Article 1 of Law 79 for 2012 which deals with the criteria by which assembly members were chosen and the legality of permitting MPs to select those members.

The court will begin investigating the case within 45 days.  

The High Constitutional Court (HCC) declared parliament null and void in mid-June after ruling Egypt's parliamentary elections law – which regulated the legislative polls – unconstitutional.

Several lawsuits were filed challenging the constitutionality of the Constituent Assembly and the mechanism for choosing its members.

Because the People's Assembly had appointed the hundred members of the Constituent Assembly, the legitimacy of the assembly itself came into question.

The assembly is the second to be formed. The first version of the body was dissolved by an Administrative Court ruling in June on the basis of its unconstitutionality.

The assembly has been trying to complete a final draft before the court rules on its dissolution to avoid the need to form a new assembly.

The March 2011 Constitutional Declaration states the charter must be put to a public vote within one month of the assembly approving the final draft.

According to legal experts, once the people vote for the new charter no court can rule against the decision.

According to the Constitutional Declaration issued by President Mohamed Morsi in August, if, for any reason, the current panel is not able to draft the constitution he will select a new body that represents all social strata to achieve the task. The hundred members will be directly appointed by the president and will then have to draft a new national charter in three months.

The current Constituent Assembly faces the same criticism from liberal and leftist observers as its dissolved predecessor, namely that it is dominated by Islamist parties and is not representative of the country's social and political diversity.

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