SCAF meets with political parties to resolve constituent assembly crisis

Ahram Online, Saturday 28 Apr 2012

The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) is meeting with Egypt's political parties to resolve the membership crisis that has beleaguered the constitution-drafting body since day one

Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt's de-facto ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and other ruling military council members are holding a meeting Saturday with political parties to discuss matters concerning the formulation of a constituent assembly that will be tasked with drafting a new constitution.

The crucial meeting has been postponed twice, but is now underway at the Ministry of Defence in the Abbasiya district of Cairo.

Attempts by Egypt's political elites to proceed in the constitutional-drafting process have been beset with troubles from the start: the first assembly being disbanded.

Days after the formation of the first assembly, a mass walkout jeopardised the constitution-drafting body. Members from liberal and leftist parties, independent prominent figures and representatives of professional and trade unions as well as representatives of the Coptic Church and Egypt's main Islamic authority, Al-Azhar, all pulled out, citing disproportionate representation.

The dissident voices objected to the Islamist majority in the assembly and the method used to select members. The Islamist-dominated Parliament allotted 50 seats for MPs, which they themselves appointed, and the remaining 50 for non-parliamentarians.

In the end, Islamists comprised more than 65 per cent of the first assembly's 100 members, with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist Nour Party -- the two largest forces in Parliament -- winning the greatest number of seats.

Many protested that the Assembly did not reflect, and would not protect, the diversity of Egyptian society.

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