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Constitution expert calls make-up of Egypt's constituent assembly 'balanced'

Egypt's constituent assembly, tasked with drafting a new constitution, represents 'all segments of Egyptian society,' says Tarek El-Bishry, architect of last year's raft of constitutional amendments

Ahram Online, Tuesday 27 Mar 2012
Constitutional expert Tarek Elbishry (Photo: Al-Ahram)
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Views: 3050

Judge Tarek El-Bishry, prominent member of the committee that drafted the constitutional amendments approved last year via popular referendum, described on Monday Egypt’s recently formed constituent assembly – tasked with drafting a new constitution – as “balanced.”

In statements published on the Muslim Brotherhood’s Ikhwanonline website, El-Bishry declared that the constituent assembly was “representative of all segments of Egyptian society.”

El-Bishry went on to point out that Article 60 of the constitutional declaration approved in March of last year gave parliament the authority to choose the members of the constituent assembly, be they sitting MPs or otherwise.

El-Bishry’s statements followed several recent high-profile resignations by liberal and leftist assembly members who complain that the body was being dominated by Islamist figures. Roughly 65 of the assembly’s 100 members are of Islamist orientation and include members of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and the Salafist Nour Party

Those that have resigned charge that assembly members were chosen on the basis of their political affiliations and not on their qualifications or merit.  

El-Bishry is seen as a key architect of last year’s raft of constitutional amendments, including Article 60. The much-debated article concerns parliament’s authority to choose members of the assembly mandated with drafting a new national charter.

Some legal experts argue, however, that the article does not grant MPs the right to nominate themselves for membership in the constituent assembly. 

On Sunday, five assembly members from the Egyptian Social Democratic Party and three from the liberal Free Egyptians Party formally withdrew from the constitution-drafting body. Liberal MP Amr Hamzawy and activist Ahmed Harara announced their withdrawal from the assembly shortly afterwards.

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