Leftist, liberal parties to announce final stance on constitution timeframe

Ahram Online, Saturday 10 Nov 2012

After threatening to withdraw from the Constituent Assembly, almost one third of Egypt's constitution-drafting body are to decide their stance on the two-week deadline for finalising the national charter

A group of leftist and liberal representatives of the Islamist-led Constituent Assembly will convene Saturday to announce their final position on the timeframe of finalising the draft constitution, which previously they viewed as too tight, threatening to withdraw from the assembly if it was not reconsidered.

A source from the liberal Free Egyptians Party told state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram daily that he expects party representatives to announce their withdrawal from the assembly during Saturday's press conference following their meeting.

On Thursday, 30 members of the assembly threatened to withdraw from the constitution-drafting body in protest at the proposed timeline according to which Egypt's new constitution will be drafted.

The group agreed that 19 November, the date slated for voting on the final draft, is too hurried and takes no notice of the need for consensus between assembly members, or their objections to approving the draft with a narrow margin of 57 votes out of 100, a majority of which are Islamist representatives inside the assembly.

Among the attendees on Saturday will be Ahmed Said, head of the Free Egyptians Party, Amr Moussa, former presidential candidate and head of the Conference Party, Hamdeen Sabbahi, former presidential candidate and head of the Egyptian Popular Current, Mohamed Abul-Ghar, head of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, and prominent political figures Mohamed Ghonim, Gaber Nasser and Mohamed Nour Farahat.

There have been major disagreements between Islamists and their liberal and leftist counterparts over the draft constitution published in October, as liberals have been arguing that the Constituent Assembly is unrepresentative of all political and social factions of Egyptian society and hence cannot produce a representative constitution.

If announced, this will be the second time liberal parties withdraw from the assembly. Over 20 liberal representatives staged a walkout in protest over the makeup of the previous Constituent Assembly, which was eventually dissolved following a verdict of the Supreme Constitution Court in April.

The current Constituent Assembly still faces the risk of dissolution pending a court order on the grounds that its members were appointed by the People's Assembly, Egypt's lower house of parliament, since-dissolved by order of the SCC.

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