Egypt's Supreme Administrative Court suspends embattled Constituent Assembly

Ahram Online, Tuesday 10 Apr 2012

Court rules in favour of lawsuit questioning constitutionally of the assembly tasked with drafting Egypt's constitution, moves case to State Council

new constitution
Egyptian parliamentarians cast ballots to select a 100-member constituent assembly panel in March 2012 (Photo: AP)

The Supreme Administrative Court blocked Egypt's constituent assembly Tuesday after ruling in favour of a recent lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of the formation of the 100-member constituent assembly. The case was referred to the Commissioner's Office at State Council, which would then have the authority to move the lawsuit to Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC).

A number of prominent lawyers filed the lawsuit against the parliament including Gad Nasser, professor of constitutional law at Cairo University, Mohamed Shehata, head of the Arab Centre for Transparency and Integrity, Sameh Ashour, the head of the Lawyers' Syndicate and presidential hopeful Khaled Ali.

They challenged the process of forming the assembly, which sees half the members chosen from parliament, arguing that parliamentarians cannot elect themselves according to a 1994 SCC ruling.

The Islamist-dominated parliament voted on 17 March to allocate 50 seats in the assembly to members of Parliament (MP) as well as allowing MPs to choose the remaining half from outside the legislative body.

The final member list sparked uproar from among the liberal and leftist forces when it revealed that Islamists had secured over 65 per cent of the assembly seats, including 50 members from the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and the Salafist Nour Party.

In protest more than a two-dozen members staged a mass walk out. Those who left included all the liberal and leftist representatives, as well as members of Egypt's official Islamic authority, Al-Azhar and the Coptic Curch. Several demonstrations were stage throughout the capital, as people objected to the domination of one single political force.

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