Experts and Judges reject constitutional reform committee

Ahmed Eliba, Thursday 17 Feb 2011

Lack of legitimacy at all levels since parliament was dissolved has lead constitutional experts and judges to oppose the measures being proposed and implemented by the military's supreme council

Tharwat Badwy, a respected expert on constitutional matters, has stated in an interview with Ahram Online that the constitutional amendments proposed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, a task now handed to the constitutional reform committee, lacks legitimacy. He stressed that the supreme council is not elected by the public and so does not replace the parliament to propose specific constitutional amendments. He added that he withdrew from the first committee, proposed by the former vice president, after it became clear that the current Egyptian constitution of 1973 isn't legally fit for amending. The January 25 revolution has rendered the current constitution illegitimate and the only course of action now is for a constituent assembly to be elected and draft a new constitution.

Similarly, Hossam Mekkawy, a counselor at South Cairo courts, told Ahram Online that judges are overall opposed to these changes. Senior appeal judges, including Hisham Bastawisi and Mahmoud Makki, are in the process of meeting at the appeals court to reject such measures in favour of re-writing the entire constitution. The debate, Mekkawy stated, started around the identity of committee members, particularly two individuals whose names he would not divulge.

Counselor Samir Al-Kammash, a member of the state counselors’ club (a club for judges responsible for judicial cases involving state bodies), told Ahram Online that a meeting at the state judges’ club on Thursday was held to agree a common stance of the general assembly.

On another front, Atef El-Banna, member of the committee, indicated in a phone call to Ahram Online that the conditions dictate the amendments proposed, since the preparation of a new constitution, technically and procedurally, could take more than a year. El-Banna added that "the armed forces really want to transfer power in a short period, no more than year, and during this period we want to conduct parliamentary and presidential elections. How would this be done while a new constitution is being written?"

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