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Advisory council asks SCAF to withdraw parliamentary control over writing of constitution

The advisory council to the SCAF has asked for an amendment to article 60 of the constitutional declaration which stipulates that the parliament will draw up the constituent assembly

Ahram Online, Monday 4 Jun 2012
File photo: Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi (4th L), the head of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), and chief of staff of the Egyptian armed forces Sami Anan sit with assistants (Photo: Reuters)

The advisory council to the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) has proposed an amendment to article 60 of the constitutional declaration, so that non-parliamentarians can take part in choosing the members of the constituent assembly.

Issued by the SCAF after last year’s revolution, the constitutional declaration was approved via popular referendum, though other items were later added. Article 60 assigns parliament the task of choosing the members of the assembly mandated to draft the new constitution.

The amendment suggests that the assembly includes head of parties in the parliament, heads of judiciary bodies, elected heads of syndicates and representative of civil society, in order to ensure that the assembly is not dominated by one political current. Twenty public figures representing women, youth and Copts would also be included, though who would choose them remains unclear.

Days after the formation of the first assembly, a mass walkout jeopardised the constitution-drafting body in April. Members from liberal and leftist parties, independent prominent figures and representatives of professional and trade unions as well as representatives of the Coptic Church and Egypt's main Islamic authority, Al-Azhar, all pulled out, citing disproportionate representation of Egyptian society.

The dissident voices objected to the Islamist majority in the assembly and the method used to select members. The Islamist-dominated Parliament allotted 50 seats for MPs, which they themselves appointed, and the remaining 50 for non-parliamentarians.

In the end, Islamists comprised more than 65 per cent of the first assembly's 100 members, with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist Nour Party -- the two largest forces in Parliament – with the greatest number of seats.

In April, the Administrative Court suspended the constituent assembly elected by members of parliament for violating the constitutional declaration issued in March 2011.

In late March it was reported that the constitutional and legislative affairs committee in parliament had been tasked with drawing up proposals of criteria for choosing the new constituent assembly that would then be submitted to a joint session of parliament.

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