FJP's El-Beltagy: Party ready to replace Brotherhood members in constituent assembly

Ahram Online, Wednesday 28 Mar 2012

Leading Brotherhood MP Mohamed El-Beltagy retracts earlier statement defending make-up of the Islamist-dominated constituent assembly to extend olive branch to assembly members who resigned in protest

Mohamed El-Beltagy
Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamed El-Beltagy (Photo: AP)

Mohamed El-Beltagy, Secretary-General of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), said they are ready to hold talks with those who have withdrawn from the constituent assembly about replacing some of the FJP members, in a Facebook statement Tuesday night. El-Beltagy’s comments suggested that the Brotherhood would be open to redressing the balance within the assembly, which is largely dominated by the  FJP.

The statement showed a change of heart, as El-Beltagy had said, in an televised interview with satellite channel CBC earlier Tuesday, that the assembly was a fair mix of different political parties and religious backgrounds.

The final list of the constituent assembly, which included over 65 per cent Islamists and just 6 women, sparked uproar across the political spectrum. The FJP and the Salafist Nour Party, who also dominate parliament, held the biggest majority of seats. Many condemned the assembly as unrepresentative of the diversity of Egypt.

"We had hoped for more participation from Copts, women, and youth. The media is misleading the society about the makeup of the assembly," continued El-Beltagy's statement, which he posted on his official Facebook page.

In the past 48 hours, several elected liberal and leftist members of the constituent assembly tendered their resignations. 

In a press conference Tuesday, at least 11 of the members who had withdrawn, including liberal Member of Parliament (MP) Amr Hamzawy and revolutionary activist Ahmed Harara, confirmed they had resigned in protest. The coalition of resigned members and political and civil society figures, also announced they would be forming an alternative constituent assembly and if necessary would draft a separate constitution.

Although El-Beltagy extended an olive branch in his evening statement, earlier Tuesday afternoon he had said on private TV channel CBC that the 100-member constituent assembly was elected democratically. He also asserted that there was a fair balance of different professions, religious sects and political parties.

The constituent assembly holds its first meeting Wednesday despite the withdrawal of over twenty of its members in protest of the assembly's make-up.

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