Fate of Egypt's constitution-drafting assembly to be decided on 23 October
The final court verdict, which may see the Constituent Assembly dissolved, will be announced on 23 October
Ahram Online, Tuesday 16 Oct 2012
A general view of the two chambers of parliament meeting to elect the 100 members of the constituent assembly in Cairo June 12, 2012 (Photo: Reuters)
Cairo Administrative Court said on Tuesday that it will give its final verdict on the constitutionality of Egypt's constitution-drafting body on 23 October.
Several lawsuits had been filed challenging the constitutionality of the Constituent Assembly and the mechanism for choosing its members, after the High Constitutional Court declared in June that the law which regulated the election of the People's Assembly -- Egypt's lower house of parliament -- was unconstitutional, leading the then-ruling military council to dissolve the legislative body.
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, which was selected by both the upper and lower houses of the now-dissolved parliament, 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.
Hours before the court ruling, the assembly leader Hossam El-Gheriany said that the final draft of the constitution will be voted on by the body during the second week of November.
The assembly has been working hard to try to come up with a final draft before the court rules on its dissolution, in an attempt to avoid the dilemma of assigning a new assembly that will have to start on drafting a new charter. The March 2011 Constitutional Declaration allows one month after the assembly approves the final draft before it is put to public vote. Once the people vote for the new charter no court, according to legal experts, 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.