El-Beltagi opens talks with resigned constituent assembly members

Ahram Online, Monday 26 Mar 2012

Brotherhood's Mohamed El-Beltagi and Wasat's Essam Sultan open talks with resigned constituent assembly members in hopes of luring them back to the body tasked with drafting Egypt's new constitution

Mohamed El-Beltagi, leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood and secretary-general of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), said on Monday that he was holding talks with resigned members of Egypt's constituent assembly – tasked with drafting a new constitution – in hopes of convincing them to rejoin the assembly.

El-Beltagi asserted that no procedural mistakes had been made in the selection of assembly members, stressing that the issue did not deserve all the media attention it was getting.

Essam Sultan, MP and deputy chairman of the Wasat Party, said that discussions with members who withdrew from assembly were ongoing and were expected to end on a "positive note" in the coming few hours.

In the past 24 hours, several elected liberal and leftist members of the constituent assembly have tendered their resignations. The resignations were made to protest the fact that the assembly is largely dominated by Islamist groups, such as the Brotherhood's FJP and the Salafist Nour Party

The five assembly members from the Egyptian Social Democratic Party – psychiatrist Ehab El-Kharrat, MP Ziad Bahaaeddin, physician Mohamed Abul-Ghar, MP Emad Gad and former finance minister Hazem El-Beblawi – all resigned on Sunday.

Meanwhile, three assembly members representing the Free Egyptians party – including party head Ahmed Said, former Capital Market Authority director Hani Sereddin and Basel Adel – also withdrew from the assembly. Liberal MP Amr Hamzawy and activist Ahmed Harara both announced their resignations shortly afterwards.

With the resignation of Mona Makram Ebeid, political science professor and veteran politician, the number of female and Christian representatives in the assembly has now fallen to five each.

Sameh Ashour, current head of Egypt's Lawyers' Syndicate, also announced his withdrawal on Monday to object to Islamist control of the assembly.  

The Egyptian Federation of Trade Unions, meanwhile, represented in the assembly by deputy secretary-general Abdel-Fatah Khateb, similarly announced his withdrawal from the assembly on Monday. Saad Aboud, assembly representative for the Nasserist Karama Party, also resigned the same day.

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