Fate of Egypt's Constituent Assembly to be decided Tuesday

Ekram Ibrahim , Tuesday 23 Oct 2012

Court to deliver final verdict on whether Constituent Assembly will be dissolved or allowed to continue with its task of drafting Egypt's new charter

Constituent assembly
The Constituent Assembly tasked with drafting Egypt's new constitution (Photo: AP)

Egypt's Administrative Court will on Tuesday deliver its final verdict on the fate of the Constituent Assembly.

Several lawsuits have been filed challenging the constitutionality of the constitution-drafting assembly and the mechanism for choosing its members. If ruled unconstitutional the assembly will be dissolved for the second time.

The High Constitutional Court declared in June that the law which regulated the election of the People's Assembly – Egypt's lower house of parliament – was unconstitutional, leading the then-ruling military council to dissolve the legislative body.

Because the People's Assembly had appointed the hundred members of the Constituent Assembly, the legitimacy of the assembly itself came into question.

"I expect the case will either be adjourned or the Constituent Assembly will continue normally," Gamal Eid, a human rights lawyer and head of Arab Network for Human Rights Information, told Ahram Online. Eid said that the decision would be based on "political" reasons.

The assembly is the second to be formed. The first version of the body was dissolved by an Administrative Court ruling in June on the basis of its unconstitutionality.

The assembly has been trying to complete a final draft before the court rules on its dissolution to avoid the need to form a new assembly. The March 2011 Constitutional Declaration states the charter must be put to a public vote within one month of the assembly approving the final draft. According to legal experts, once the people vote for the new charter no court can rule against the decision.

According to the Constitutional Declaration issued by President Mohamed Morsi in August, if, for any reason, the current panel is not able to draft the constitution he will select a new body that represents all social strata to achieve the task. The hundred members will be directly appointed by the president and will then have to draft a new national charter in three months.

The current Constituent Assembly faces the same criticism from liberal and leftist observers as its dissolved predecessor, namely that it is dominated by Islamist parties and is not representative of the country's social and political diversity.


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