Beleaguered Constituent Assembly votes on Egypt's draft constitution

Ahram Online, Thursday 29 Nov 2012

Despite mass walkouts by key members, Egypt's constitution-drafting body holds final vote on contentious draft charter at Shura Council headquarters

Egyptian constitution
The Islamist-dominated panel vote on a final draft of a new Egyptian constitution in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. (Photo: AP)

The Constituent Assembly has begun its final session, Thursday, in the headquarters of the Shura Council (upper house of parliament) to vote on the draft constitution, that will then be handed to President Mohamed Morsi and put to nationwide popular referendum .

Despite mass walkouts by most liberal and leftist assembly members, along with church – not to mention growing anti-Morsi demonstrations across the country – the Islamist-dominated assembly surprised the nation by abruptly announcing it would go ahead with Thursday's final vote on the proposed national charter.

Following a series of resignations, Thursday's final sessions opens with just 85 members instead of the usual 100. Only 11 of the liberal members who resigned recently were replaced with alternates, the head of the Constituent Assembly Hossam El-Gheriany announced. Most of these reserve members hail from the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist Nour Party.

The articles of the new draft, which was finalised in the early hours of Thursday morning, require the votes of 67 assembly members.

If the Constituent Assembly fails to obtain the required number of votes, they will revote on the debated article, which will only require 57 votes for approval.

Last night the assembly added an article giving the Islamist-dominated Shura Council the power to issue legislation until a new lower house of parliament is elected.

The drafting process has been expedited in recent days with 50 articles debated since Saturday, most of them regulating controversial bodies like the judiciary, the army, the presidency, the press and the media.

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