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Parliament vote on Constituent Assembly members dogged by walkout

Liberal, leftist parties and MPs walk out of joint parliamentary session to object to perceived Islamist monopolisation of Egypt's constitution-drafting process

Ahram Online , Tuesday 12 Jun 2012
Parliament Speaker Saad El-Katatni (C) casts his vote during the two chambers of parliament meeting to elect the 100 members of the constituent assembly in Cairo June 12, 2012.(Photo:Reuters)
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Party representatives and independent MPs walked out of a joint session of the Shura Council and People's Assembly (the upper and lower houses of parliament) on Tuesday to object to the perceived monopolisation of the constitution-drafting process by Islamist parties.

In Tuesday's session, MPs had been scheduled to elect members of Egypt's 100-member Constituent Assembly, tasked with drafting a new constitution.

A total of 57 MPs reportedly withdrew from Tuesday's joint session to register their dissatisfaction. These included representatives of the 'Egyptian Bloc' parties, the 'Revolution Continues' bloc, the Hurriyah Party, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, the Egyptian-Arabic Union Party, the Egyptian Citizen Party and the liberal Wafd Party, along with several independent candidates.

Ahmed Ziad Bahaaeddin, representative of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, said in press statements that party representatives had withdrawn because the parliament majority – led by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and the Salafist Nour Party – had continued to disregard suggestions by liberal and leftist parties to form a constituent assembly tasked with drafting a new constitution representative of all segments of Egyptian society.

Egypt's High Constitutional Court also declared on Tuesday that it was withdrawing its representative from the Constituent Assembly, citing the absence of national consensus on assembly membership and its own desire to avoid becoming embroiled in political disputes.  

The parties' withdrawal on Tuesday follows a similar move by six other parties, which walked out of the assembly earlier to allow for the greater representation of women, youth and Christians, and to object to perceived Islamist efforts to dominate the assembly.

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