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Legal experts challenge decision to stock constituent assembly with sitting MPs

Parliamentary decision to allocate half the seats of Egypt's constituent assembly to sitting MPs contradicts terms of last year's constitutional declaration, says expert

Ahram Online, Monday 19 Mar 2012

Several Egyptian political figures and movements have criticised the recent decision to draw half the members of the constituent assembly – tasked with drawing up a new constitution – from among sitting parliamentarians.

Nour Farahat, a legal expert and consultant for the UN on human rights issues, told Ahram Online that he planned to file a lawsuit against the decision, which, he said, “prevents members of the public from fully taking part in the drafting committee.”

According to Farahat, the move contradicts Article 60 of Egypt’s constitutional declaration (issued in March of last year by Egypt’s ruling military council), which stipulates that only members of the Shura Council and People’s Assembly (the upper and lower houses of Egypt’s parliament) can decide the members of the constituent assembly.

At a joint session of Parliament on Saturday, a majority of MPs (472 out of 585) voted to allocate half of the seats in the 100-member constituent assembly to sitting parliamentarians.

The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, which holds almost half of the seats in Parliament, had earlier agreed that it would support a ratio of 40 per cent for MPs and 60 per cent for non-parliamentarians. The Islamist party,under pressure from the Salafist Nour Party, changed its position on Saturday voicing support for the 50/50 option.

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