FJP announces Brotherhood concession to resolve constituent assembly crisis

Ahram Online, Monday 2 Apr 2012

Leading Muslim Brotherhood figure and MP Mohamed El-Beltagi says his party is ready to replace members of the currently Islamist-dominated constituent assembly with members from outside the current substitutes list

Mohamed El-Beltagi, secretary-general of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), has said that the party approves substituting Islamist MPs for outsiders in the recently-chosen constituent assembly, in a further attempt to calm the uproar over the Islamist domination of the 100-member body.

El-Beltagi announced on Monday that the parliament's negotiation committee, known as the "committee of nine" tasked with mediating a resolution over the constituent assembly crisis, has reached a "preliminary" agreement to replace some of the current constituent assembly members with outside professional experts in various fields that have not been listed as substitute members.

The final list of the members of the constituent assembly, which included over 65 Islamists and just six women, sparked uproar across the political spectrum. The FJP and the Salafist Nour Party, the two largest parties in parliament, held the majority of seats, leading many to condemn the assembly as unrepresentative of the diversity of Egypt.

Since the announcement of the make-up of the assembly on 25 March, over twenty mostly liberal and leftist members have tendered their resignations. 

Earlier last week, El-Beltagi said in a statement on Facebook that the party was ready to hold talks with those who have withdrawn from the constituent assembly about replacing some of the FJP members.

The FJP's concessions show a change of heart, as El-Beltagi had said in a televised interview with satellite television channel CBC last Tuesday that the assembly had a fair mix of different political parties and religious backgrounds.

In a press conference Tuesday, at least 11 of the members who had withdrawn, including liberal MP Amr Hamzawy and revolutionary activist Ahmed Harara, confirmed they had resigned in protest. A 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.

The constituent assembly held its opening meeting on Wednesday, despite the withdrawal of over twenty of its members.

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