Liberal Wafd Party quits Egypt's constitution-drafting body

MENA and Ahram Online , Saturday 17 Nov 2012

Saturday's Wafd Party walk out follows the withdrawal of church representatives from the Constituent Assembly, threatening the future of the current draft national charter

Al-Sayed al-Badawi
Egypt's Liberal Wafd party chairman Al-Sayed al-Badawi (Photo: Reuters)

The liberal Wafd Party declared its withdrawal from Egypt's Constituent Assembly on Saturday, after a meeting held by the party's high committee at their headquarters.

The Wafd explained in a press statement that the decision to leave the assembly was based on a belief that the drafting of the national charter is not consensual and does not reflect the aspirations of the January 25 Revolution to build a civil, democratic and modern state.   

The party will hold a meeting on Sunday to coordinate a unified stand on the constitution with the country's different political forces, during which its party head Sayed El-Badawy will announce the decision to withdraw.

Earlier on Saturday, Egypt's churches also declared they had withdrawn from the Constituent Assembly complaining that the latest draft constitution "does not provide national coalition or reflect Egypt's diversity."

Further walkouts are expected in the coming days.  

Last Thursday, 30 Constituent Assembly members threatened to withdraw from the constitution-drafting body should particular demands not be met by Sunday. They called for the proposed timeline of the new constitution, which would see the document completed in two weeks, to be extended to three months. They also demanded that certain articles in the "State and Society" section be changed.  

Members who threatened to leave the assembly include former Arab League chief and one-time presidential candidate Amr Moussa, assembly spokesman Wahid Abdel-Meguid, liberal politician Ayman Nour and constitutional law professor Gaber Gad Nassar.

The assembly has already suffered a number of withdrawals since 11 June, when the 'Egyptian Bloc' parties – including the Free Egyptians, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party and the leftist Tagammu Party – initiated a walk-out, followed by the Karama Party, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party and the Democratic Front Party, to allow greater representation for women, young people and Coptic Christians, while also registering their objection to "Islamist monopolisation" of the assembly.

Meanwhile, the assembly is still facing the risk of dissolution by court order due to a case challenging the constitutionality of the law which set the criteria for choosing its members. The 100 assembly members were chosen by the now-dissolved parliament, which was ruled unconstitutional by the High Constitutional Court (HCC) in mid-June.  

On 23 October, the Supreme Administrative Court referred the lawsuit challenging the assembly's constitutionality to the HCC, which is yet to issue its verdict. It has been claimed that some assembly members are attempting to draft the constitution quickly and submit it for a national referendum before the court issues its verdict.

The first assembly was dissolved in April after a court ruling stated it was not representative of Egyptian society. The same criticism is being directed at the current constitution-drafting body. 




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