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'Sick man' constituent assembly needs urgent surgery: Farouk Goweida

Farouk Goweida, a member of Egypt's constituent assembly, has called for experts to replace amateurs on the constitution-drafting body, threatens to withdraw from body if changes not made

Ahram Online , Wednesday 4 Apr 2012
A protester holding a banner against Muslim brotherhood
A protester holding a banner against Muslim brotherhood's control in the constituent assembly (Photo:Reuters)
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The poet and writer Farouk Goweida has threatened to withdraw from Egypt's constituent assembly – tasked with drafting a new constitution – if the Freedom and Justice Party and the Salafist Nour Party ignore his suggestion to amend the assembly’s membership.

At least 65 of the assembly's 100 members are Islamists. Women and religious minorities are among the groups underrepresented on the body.

Goweida suggested last week that at least 15 assembly members be replaced by legal and constitutional experts. “I am ready to be the first one to do this and leave my place for a constitutional expert,” he said.

In a phone call to Dream TV’s 10 PM show late Tuesday, Goweida described the assembly as a sick man who needs a surgeon.

Most of the liberal and leftist party representatives on the assembly, as well prominent independents, have withdrawn in protest at the predominance of Islamists on the body.

In addition, Al-Azhar, the Islamic religious authority, the Coptic Christian Church and most of the unions have withdrawn their representatives from the assembly over the last two weeks.

Assembly member and independent MP, Wahid Abdel-Magid, revealed Tuesday that negotiations held between the assembly and the members who had withdrawn had failed to achieve a positive conclusion.

“The legitimacy of the constituent assembly is threatened because there are certain sectors of the country that are not officially represented, such as the Coptic Church and Al-Azhar,” Abdel-Magid said in a statement to Al-Ahram's Arabic website.

The constituent assembly is to meet again Wednesday.

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