Head of Egypt's Constituent Assembly rejects 'anti-revolutionary' claims

Ahram Online, Tuesday 25 Sep 2012

Hossam El-Gheryani, head of Egypt's Constituent Assembly, dismisses allegations by former assembly member Manal El-Tayyebi that constitution-drafting body includes 'anti-revolutionary' elements

Hossam El Gheriany
Judge Hossam El Gheriany, chairman of the constituent assembly (Photo: Reuters)

Judge Hossam El-Gheryani, head of Egypt's Constituent Assembly tasked with drafting a new constitution, rejected on Tuesday recent assertions by rights activist and former assembly member Manal El-Tayyebi that the assembly included "anti-revolutionary" elements.

El-Tayyebi formally withdrew from the constitution-drafting body on Monday.

In her resignation letter, Tayyebi claimed she had been subject to "ideological intimidation" by Islamist assembly members, who, she asserted, were working against the objectives of last year's uprising and who sought to restrict public freedoms.

When officially announcing El-Tayyebi's resignation, El-Gheryani refrained from reading her resignation letter, which he described as "offensive."

"Ms. Manal gave me a lengthy [resignation] letter, but I will not read it to you as its content is offensive to this respectable assembly," he said.

As for El-Tayyebi's claims that the Constituent Assembly had been infiltrated by "anti-revolutionary" elements, El-Gheryani asked rhetorically: "Is there any one here from [ousted president Hosni Mubarak's] National Democratic Party? Where are the 'anti-revolution' members of this assembly?"

The assembly, he went on, "is going through hard times and is being attacked with increasing ferocity… This time, unfortunately, the attack came from within."

Upon announcing her withdrawal from the assembly on Monday, El-Tayyebi explained that – as deputy head of the assembly's freedoms and rights committee – she had proposed several articles for inclusion in the new constitution that had been rejected by Islamist assembly members.

Egypt's beleaguered Constituent Assembly has already suffered a number of withdrawals since mid-June, when the 'Egyptian Bloc' parties – including the Free Egyptians, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party and the leftist Tagammu Party – initiated a mass walk-out, which was followed by the Karama Party, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party and the Democratic Front Party.

Their stated reason for resigning from the assembly was to allow greater representation for women, young people and Coptic Christians, while also registering their objection to perceived "Islamist monopolisation" of the constitution-writing committee.

The troubled assembly still faces the risk of dissolution by court order on grounds that it was drawn up by the People's Assembly, the since-dissolved lower house of Egypt's parliament. In October, Egypt's Supreme Administrative Court is set to rule on the assembly's constitutionality, or lack thereof.

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