Military discusses popular vote to elect constituent assembly

Ahram Online, Sunday 22 Apr 2012

The deputy leader of Egypt's military council and legal experts lean towards putting the constitutional assembly membership to popular vote, but argue over reverting to the 1971 constitution

Tantawi, Anan
File photo: Egypt's military ruler field marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, left, and Sami Anan Egyptian chief of staff of the armed forces (Photo: AP)

General Sami Anan, armed forces chief of staff and deputy leader of Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), met with legal experts Saturday to discuss the second attempt at drafting Egypt's new constitution.

A non-binding agreement was reached that the assembly should be elected by the people - rather than parliament - during the meeting, which lasted from 6:00pm until around 1:00am.

Originally, parliament had decided that the 100-member assembly would contain 50 MPs and 50 public figures from outside parliament. In the end, the Islamist-dominated parliament elected an Islamist-dominated constituent assembly.

An administrative court ruling against the domination of MPs on the original constitutent assembly disbanded it on 10 April.

The questions being tackled through Saturday's meeting are now who will form the constitutent assembly and how.

The suggestion of temporarily reinstating the 1971 constitution until the new constitution is finished brought major disagreement among the group of constitutional experts and law faculty deans hosted by Anan, revealed law professor Tharwat Badawi, who was among the attendees.

Badawi added that some law professors at the meeting criticised the disenfranchisement bill, which intends to prohibit Mubarak-regime figures from assuming senior political positions for the next 10 years, objecting because the law would actually have to be passed first (by the military council) before the Supreme Constitutional Court is allowed review it.

Badawi said Anan had claimed the armed forces did not want to hold onto power and did not favour any particular political faction, refuting general opinion on the street.

Parliament meets Sunday to discuss new guidelines for the constituent assembly, following the court verdict.

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