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Closed session on Egypt's charter evokes member critique

Members of constitution-drafting body take issue with the lack of transparency regarding discussions on current draft

Ahram Online , Sunday 27 Oct 2013
Amr Mousa
Head of the 50-member constitution committee Amr Moussa (Photo: Reuters)
Views: 1343
Views: 1343

The decision by the procedures committee of Egypt's constitution-drafting body to hold recent sessions behind closed doors and to bar alternate members from attending has stirred intense debate among some members of the main 50-member panel.

Some panel members - including the heads of the lawyers' syndicate and journalists' syndicate, Sameh Ashour and Diaa Rashwan, along with renowned kidney surgeon Mohamed Ghoneim - voiced concerns during Sunday's session about the recently-imposed media blackout demanding transparency.

The critics also objected to the banning of alternate members, of which there are 50, from attending those closed sessions, arguing the decision violates the committee bylaw, which allows reserve members to attend all sessions, albeit without voting rights.

Following a month of dialogue by six sub-committees, the 50-member drafting assembly began final deliberations on Tuesday, intending to vote on a final version before putting it up for public discussion.

This phase is scheduled to conclude on 3 December, when the draft will be referred to interim President Adly Mansour, before being put to a national referendum.

Committee head Amr Moussa, a former chief of the Arab League, pledged to take the matter up with the procedures committee.

The 2012 Islamist-drafted constitution was suspended after president Mohamed Morsi was ousted on 3 July.

The amended charter is part of a transitional roadmap, which will lead to parliamentary and presidential elections by mid-2014, according to a timetable set by interim President Adly Mansour after Morsi's overthrow.

A public debate, which media outlets and reserve members can attend, is planned after a final draft is drawn up and voted on by panel members.

The panel is now tackling articles regarding "human rights and liberties," official sources said.

Mohamed Salmawy, media spokesperson of the 50-strong assembly, had said that closed sessions aim to pre-empt any conflicting media reports or confuse the public. A press conference is instead held after each session to deliver formal statements regarding debate outcomes.

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27-10-2013 09:12pm
Pathetic constitution
They say public will get confused. This peace of document is noting else but full of shit. It will never be used in Egypt.
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