Hossam Eissa (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Ain Shams University law professor Hossam Eissa stated on Saturday evening that if no parliamentary consensus was reached in coming days over the composition of the constitutional assembly tasked with drafting a new constitution, then Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) could unilaterally set new criteria for the assembly's formulation.
Eissa asserted that the SCAF was legally entitled to do so, stressing the dire need for consensus on the issue among Egypt's various political forces – especially regarding the criteria used to select assembly members. The constituent assembly has yet to be reformulated after having been disbanded on 10 April by court order.
Speaking on Egyptian satellite-television channel Dream 2, Eissa added that the Muslim Brotherhood – which holds almost half of the seats in the People's Assembly (the lower house of Egypt's parliament) – had committed a "serious political error" when it dictated criteria for selecting assembly members.
"The assembly included several nobodies who no one had ever heard of, which ended up stoking popular anxiety," Eissa said. He added that Islamist domination of the assembly had led many Egyptians to consider Mubarak-era intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as a viable choice for president before his 15 April elimination from the race at the hands of the Supreme Presidential Elections Commission (SPEC).
Eissa also said that a main reason for the current political deadlock was that many revolutionary forces had abandoned Cairo's flashpoint Tahrir Square as a protest venue with which to exert pressure on the country's military rulers.
That being said, Friday witnessed large-scale protests by a number of political forces, including Islamists, liberals and leftists, all of whom participated in demonstrations dubbed "Self Determination Friday."
While there were several calls for holding an open-ended sit-in in Tahrir, only the supporters of disqualified Salafist presidential contender Hazem Abu-Ismail remain in the square until now to protest the SPEC's decision to eliminate their candidate from next month's presidential race.