Parliament considers three options for constituent assembly membership

Salma Shukrallah, Saturday 17 Mar 2012

All MPs, no MPs or a mix of both, are the options on the table regarding membership of the constitution-drafting constituent assembly,put to the vote in parliament on Saturday

Egypt Parliament (Photo:Reuters)

People's Assembly Speaker Mohamed Saad El-Katatni presented in a joint session of parliament Saturday three options put forward concerning membership of the constituent assembly that will draft Egypt's new constitution.

The first option on the table is that those elected members of the constituent assembly be all members of parliament. The second suggestion was that no MPs be members of the constituent assembly. The third suggestion is that the assembly be a mix of MPs and others. The three options were proposed for a vote supervised by a committee headed by MP Mohamed Abdel-Alim Daoud.

Socialist Popular Alliance Party MP Abul-Ezz El-Hariri, defending the proposal that the constituent assembly exclude MPs, argued that the qualifications needed for assembly membership are not necessarily found in parliament and must be found elsewhere. The assembly should include legal experts, intellectuals and other professionals from different specialisations, he argued.

Salafist El-Nour Party MP Mostafa Khalifa argued that the constituent assembly should be chosen from among members of parliament as they were elected by the people to draft the constitution. According to Khalifa, the 20 million Egyptians who voted for the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist El-Nour Party want to see them in the constituent assembly.

The Freedom and Justice Party MP Hussein Mohamed Ibrahim proposed as a compromise that the assembly be a mix of MPs and others. Ibrahim argued that many Egyptians expect the assembly to be made up of MPs whom they voted for. Ibrahim suggested that the assembly be half MPs and half non-MPs.

MP Mohamed Khalifa El-Telawy argued members of the assembly should be chosen according to qualifications, regardless of whether they are members of parliament or not. 

Holding a similarly position to El-Telawy, Al-Amal Party MP Magdi Qorqor suggested that another option be added to the ballot. The ballot proposed by El-Katani originally included only three options: all MPs, no MPs or a mix with ballot voters defining what percentage would be afforded to each. Qorqor proposed that the ballot should also include the option that the assembly is made up of a mix without restricting that choice to a certain percentage. His proposal was granted and added to the ballot.

Voting results are expected to be announced later on Saturday, during the same parliament session. 

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