Ahmed Maher, a founding member of the April 6 Youth Movement (Photo: El-Ahram)
A member of the influential April 6 Youth Movement, Ahmed Maher, withdraws from Egypt's Constituent Assembly on Sunday, declaring on the group's official website that his decision is part of an agreement with other civil forces on the constitution drafting body.
Maher, together with thirty other non-Islamist members of the Constituent Assembly, froze their membership two days ago, threatening to fully withdraw within 48 hours if their demands were not met.
They called for the deadline to be extended for the final draft of the constitution from two weeks to three months. They also demanded modification of particular articles of the "State and Society" section.
Members who threatened to leave the assembly also included 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.
On Saturday, the Liberal Wafd party and representatives of Egypt's churches also withdrew from the assembly.
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.