8 constituent assembly members resign to protest Islamist dominance

Ahram Online, Sunday 25 Mar 2012

Newly-elected members of body tasked with drafting Egypt's new constitution step down to protest preponderance of Islamists in assembly

Mohamed Abul-Ghar (Photo: Ahram)

Eight members of Egypt's constituent assembly tasked with drafting a new constitution resigned on Sunday to protest what they see as the unfair distribution of assembly seats to those of Islamist orientations.

Among those who submitted their resignations were five members of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party: psychiatrist Ehab El-Kharrat, MP Ziyad Bahaa El-Din, physician Mohamed Abu El-Ghar, MP Emad Gad, and former finance minister Hazem El-Beblawi.

The remaining three are members of the liberal Free Egyptians party: The head of the party Ahmed Said, the former Capital Market Authority director Hany Sery El-Din and Basel Adel .

Liberal MP Amr Hamzawy is also expected to resign after conducting an informal poll on his Facebook page in which he asked supporters whether he should remain in the assembly.

Those who resigned object to the fact that the 100-member assembly is largely dominated by Islamists, with members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and the Salafist Nour Party comprising roughly 70 per cent of assembly members.

The constituent assembly is composed of 50 sitting MPs and 50 non-parliamentarians. Of the former, the assembly includes 25 FJP MPs, 11 Nour Party MPs and 14 independent and non-Islamist MPs.

The 50 assembly members from outside parliament, meanwhile, include constitutional law professors, prominent public figures, chairmen of political parties, religious clerics and others associated with Islamist movements and forces.

According to the assembly's regulations, if a member resigns, he or she is replaced by a person on the substitute list, which is also dominated by Islamists.

The assembly is mandated with drafting a new national charter to replace Egypt's 1971 constitution, which was formally dissolved shortly after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in February of last year. For months, various Egyptian political factions have voiced concern that the assembly would be dominated by Islamists who, they fear, would draft a constitution based largely on Islamic precepts.  

It is not yet clearn how the Islamsits will respond to the eight resignations.

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