Talks underway with ex-constituent assembly members: Moussa

Ahram Online, Thursday 28 Jun 2012

Former Arab League chief says talks are underway with resigned members of Egypt's constituent assembly aimed at getting them back on board the controversy-prone constitution-drafting body

Negotiations are currently underway with resigned members of Egypt's constituent assembly to entice them to return to the controversy-dogged constitution-drafting body, Amr Moussa, former presidential candidate and constituent assembly member, said on Thursday.

According to Al-Ahram's Arabic-language news website, Egypt's former minister of foreign affairs said dialogue was still taking place between various political forces aimed at enticing resigned members back to the 100-member assembly. Moussa was quoted as saying that that the talks were "going well'" and "the next 48 hours would likely see "important developments regarding the assembly's composition."

"We must not forget that this assembly is mandated with preparing a draft constitution to eventually be put before the people for approval," he was quoted as saying. "It's the duty of those who withdrew from the assembly to keep the public informed about proposed constitutional articles and explain them to the various segments of Egyptian society."

Representatives of most liberal and leftist parties – including the Free Egyptians party and the Egyptian Social Democratic Party – walked out of the assembly last month to protest the constitution-writing body's Islamist-heavy membership.

Three prominent public figures also tendered their resignations for the same reason: Abdel Galil Mostafa, general coordinator of the National Association for Change reform movement; Gaber Nassar, constitutional law expert ; and Samir Marcus, Coptic-Christian thinker.

A similar walkout by liberal and leftist members in April derailed an earlier attempt to form a constituent assembly.

In talks last month leading up to the formation of a second assembly, however, a deal was struck between Islamist and non-Islamist forces over their respective number of assembly members. Non-Islamist figures, however, later accused their Islamist counterparts of violating the terms of the deal and attempting to secure a majority within the assembly.

On Tuesday evening, the current constituent assembly convened to choose sub-committee heads and approve its code of conduct. The session took place on the same day that Egypt's Supreme Administrative Court postponed its ruling on the assembly's constitutionality to 4 September – a ruling that could lead to the assembly's dissolution for a second time.

The constituent assembly's executive bureau is now expected to meet on Wednesday to prepare for the body's first official session on Saturday.

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