Lawyer sues Egypt's military council, pressing to ensure a transfer of power to civilian rule

Ahram Online, Saturday 12 May 2012

Lawyer Assad Heikal files a lawsuit against Egypt's ruling military and speakers of parliament to drop the constitution drafting for now to avoid a delay in transition of power to civilian rule

A Cairo emergency court session begins Sunday to review the lawsuit demanding that presidential elections be held before holding the referendum for the new constitution.

Attorney Asaad Heikal filed the lawsuit against Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi, head of the ruling military and de facto ruler of Egypt, as well as the speakers of parliament's lower and upper houses: Saad El-Katatni and Ahmed Fahmi.

Heikal argues that article 189 of the constitutional amendments approved by a March 2011 referendum states that it is the president who must call for the formation of the constituent assembly to draft a new constitution.

The military council, according to Heikal, ommitted this sentence from the constitutional declaration it issued after the referendum.

In a meeting in April the military council urged heads of political parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood, to finish writing the country's constitution before the election of a new president in May.

This rose speculation about the possibility of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) trying to hold onto power for a while longer with the excuse that the constitution has yet to be drafted. It is widely believed that one month is an unrealistic timeframe to finish the critical process of determining how a constitutional assembly will be formed, executing those procedures, drafting the constitution and then putting it up for plebiscite - all before the presidential elections.

Presidential elections are scheduled to start on 23/24 May, with a runoff voting round on 16/17 June, if necessary. The president is to be named on 21 June.

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