The second stage of Egypt's post-30 June political roadmap is expected to begin "within a few days". According to article 29 of the constitutional declaration issued on 8 July, interim President Adli Mansour will entrust a 50-member committee, representing all segments of society, to write the final draft of Egypt's new constitution.
The decree comes after a 10-member technical committee finalised the first stage of Egypt's political roadmap, by amending the 2012 Islamist-backed constitution.
According to Ali Awad, head of the 10-member committee and Mansour's advisor on constitutional affairs, a presidential decree unveiling the names of the 50-member committee, entrusted with putting the final draft of the constitution together, will be announced today or tomorrow.
Awad indicated that president Mansour's aide Mostafa Hegazy led a presidential team tasked with revising the lists of names of nominees from political factions and other institutions to join the 50-member committee. "In accordance with article 28 of 8 the July declaration, all the factions and institutions required to submit the names of their candidates have completed the job," said Awad, adding that "as a result, the final list of the names forming the 50-member committee will be announced within hours."
Awad explained that the lists include the names of those acting as basic members of the committee, as well as reserves.
Although the 8 July declaration does not stipulate a specific time for the 50-member committee to plunge into business, it is expected that it will embark on doing its job immediately after Mansour's decree is announced. Meetings of the committee will be hosted by the dissolved upper house of the Shura Council.
As revealed by Ahram Online one week ago, the ultra-conservative Salafist Al-Nour party is expected to provide the main Islamist representation in the 50-member committee. Al-Nour has nominated five members, with the presidential team expected to select just three as basic members and two as reserve members. Topping the list of Al-Nour's names are the party's media spokesman Nader Bakar, senior official Ashraf Thabet (former deputy speaker of 2012's dissolved Islamist-dominated People's Assembly) and Bassam Al-Zarka (a member of the dissolved Shura Council). The list also includes Yasser Borhami, deputy chairman of the Salafist Dawaa, allied with the Nour party, and Talaat Marzouk, a Salafist who was a member of 2012's People's Assembly.
As the Muslim Brotherhood is currently experiencing a state-led crackdown, with the majority of its senior leaders in custody, Al-Nour is expected to be the main voice for Islamists in Egypt's final constitution-drafting process.
In a statement issued last week, Al-Nour said, "It decided to join the 50-member committee, representing the second stage of Egypt's new political roadmap, to defend the Islamic shari'a articles stressing Egypt's Sunni Islamic identity." The party has said it strongly objects to the 10-member committee's proposal aimed at removing article 219, which provides an interpretation of Islamic shari'a, from the new constitution. Informed sources told Ahram Online that Al-Nour, after a series of meetings with the secular Al-Wafd party, agreed that "the new constitution must retain article 219."
The decision whether certain articles will be maintained or not will depend on the weight of political forces, public institutions and their ideological backgrounds.
Unlike the 100-member Islamist-dominated constituent assembly, which drafted Egypt's 2012 most controversial constitution, Egypt's final constitution-drafting 50-member committee is expected to be dominated by secularists.
Al-Nour Islamists will be joined by representatives from Al-Azhar Sunni Islamic institution and representatives of some of the professional syndicates dominated by Muslim Brotherhood, but these are not expected to form a majority. Al-Azhar has nominated five clerics to be members of the committee, as well as Mohamed Abdel-Salam and Abdallah Al-Naggar, two aides to Al-Azhar's moderate Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb. Al-Azhar and Al-Nour currently disagree on a number of matters.
Al-Nour's viewpoints on Islamic shari'a articles are likely to face strong objections from secular forces, which are expected to form a majority within the committee. According to article 28 of 8 July's declaration, the 50-member committee must include ten figures representing youth and women. Most of the youth revolutionary movements, particularly the Tamaroud (Rebel) movement which spearhead the 30 June revolt against the regime of the Muslim Brotherhood and President Mohamed Morsi, are strongly against "the reactionary viewpoints" of Al-Nour party. The same is true for representatives from movements such as April 6, the National Association for Change, and so on.
Tamaroud has nominated five of its figures, on top of whom the movement's founder Mahmoud Badr to take part in the committee. The group's leading officials have said, "not only will they stand against Al-Nour party, rally behind removing article 219 article, but they will also launch a "write your constitution" campaign in most of Egypt's cities, towns and villages, in order to gather public support for the necessity of removing all articles of "religious tyranny" from 2012's constitution.
Awad explained that the 10-member technical committee has concluded that 32 articles (representing 14 per cent) of 2012's constitution are to be revoked, and 154 articles (representing 65 per cent) are to be re-amended. Articles within the initial draft of the constitution were cut short from 236 to 198.
The most controversial articles removed from 2012's constitution include those giving an interpretation of Islamic Shari'a; allocating 50 per cent of seats in parliament to representatives of workers and farmers and imposing a political ban on leading officials of Hosni Mubarak's defunct ruling National Democratic Party (NDP).