Brotherhood's El-Beltagy to discuss draft constitution with political forces

Ahram Online, Monday 30 Jul 2012

Constituent Assembly to discuss draft constitution with political forces on Friday; Supreme Administrative Court to rule on assembly's constitutional legitimacy on Monday

Mohamed El-Beltagy
Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamed El-Beltagy (Photo: AP)

Mohamed El-Beltagi, a leading Muslim Brotherhood figure and member of the Constituent Assembly tasked with drafting a new constitution, stated on Sunday that assembly members would discuss proposed constitutional articles with different political forces on Friday, following a nationwide tour aimed at hearing proposals for constitutional amendments.

He also stressed that the preliminary draft of the new constitution could be amended following discussions with political forces.

El-Beltagi confirmed that the assembly would finalise the preliminary draft of the new national charter within the last two weeks of August, stressing that the document would still remain open to discussion with other political factions and groups.

He also pointed out that agreement had been reached among constituent assembly members that the new constitution adopt a presidential-parliamentary system of governance, like that currently employed in France.

El-Beltagi went on to refute recent rumours that the constitution would adopt a purely presidential system in light of Morsi's victory in last month's presidential elections. The president called on the media to interact positively with the Constituent Assembly so as to keep the public accurately informed of the assembly's progress.

Meanwhile, Egypt's Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) is expected to rule on Monday on a petition filed by Muslim Brotherhood lawyers calling for the recusal of the judges slated to rule on the Constituent Assembly's constitutionality.

Egypt's High Constitutional Court has already ruled that the law regulating last year's parliamentary elections was unconstitutional. The military council subsequently dissolved parliament's Islamist-led lower house in mid-June.

Since it was the lower house that had chosen the 100 members of the Constituent Assembly, the constitutionality of the assembly itself was thus brought into question.

The Brotherhood, which controlled roughly half of the now-dissolved lower house, has taken up the task of defending the assembly's constitutional legitimacy. The group has filed a petition aimed at replacing the SAC judges who will deliver the ruling, arguing that the panel is biased based on its earlier ruling against the constitutionality of the first Constituent Assembly earlier this year.

Egypt's first post-Mubarak Constituent Assembly was dissolved following a SAC ruling in April, which had found it unconstitutional because it had included members of parliament.

The second Constituent Assembly, meanwhile, still faces many of the same problems as the first one. For instance, the current Constituent Assembly, too, boasts several MPs among its members.

The new constitution-drafting body is also at risk of being dissolved due to the fact that the lower house of parliament – which had selected its members – has also since been ruled unconstitutional.

What's more, the second Constituent Assembly also stands accused of failing to represent Egypt's political diversity.

In a repeat of what happened to the first Constituent Assembly, liberal and leftist forces walked out of the second assembly early in June, after complaining that the assembly was being monopolised by Islamist political forces.

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