Secular political forces satisfied with Egypt's constitution-amending committee

Ahram Online , Monday 2 Sep 2013

Socialist Popular Alliance Party and Egyptian Social Democratic Party, among other political groups, say 50-member committee representative of Egyptian people; Salafist Nour Party critiques minimal Islamist representation

Egypt's interim President Adly Mansour (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt's newly formed 50-member constitution-amending committee has been mostly criticised by Islamist groups and praised by many secular political groups.

The makeup of the committee, announced Sunday by the presidency, includes only a few Islamists and critics of the ouster of ex-president Mohamed Morsi by the army on 3 July following mass popular protests.

Abdel Ghafar Shukr, the leader of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, praised the new constitutional amendment committee in press statements on Monday, describing it as being representative of all Egyptians.

"Most of the committee's members have been elected through authorities and syndicates, like the representatives of the students unions, syndicates of journalists and lawyers, as well as the members of political parties," said the Leftist politician, adding that public figures selected for the committee also represent Egyptian society.

Ayman Abu-Ela, Secretary of Parliamentary Affairs in the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, expressed his complete satisfaction with the formation of the 50- member committee.

"The committee was chosen carefully when it comes to diversity," he said in a statement on Monday, praising the representation of youth in the committee.

However, Abu-Ela believes there should be a larger representation of women in the committee, which currently includes five women.

Mohamed Abu El-Ghar, leader of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, is a member of the committee as a representative of liberal powers.

The 'Rebel' (Tamarod) group, which called for the 30 June nationwide protests that paved the way for the armed forces to topple Morsi, also praised the make-up of the 50-member constitution committee. 

Mai Wahba, a spokesperson for the group, told Al-Ahram’s Arabic website on Monday that the committee was diverse and representative, saying that the anti-Morsi Rebel campaign's proposals have largely been met. 

Two of the 'Rebel' campaign's founders, Mahmoud Badr and Mohamed Abdel-Aziz, have been included in the committee.


On the other hand, the Salafist Nour Party filed a complaint in a statement earlier on Monday, saying that the newly formed constitutional committee marginalises the Islamist current. The party added that it is still evaluating the situation and "all options are on the table."

"The formation of the committee is really bad and reflects the domination of the leftist-Nasserist faction," the Nour statement reads.

The Nour Party has approved the roadmap that was announced by army-chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi following the removal of president Morsi from office.

The Salafist party has warned that eliminating certain articles from the suspended-2012 constitution concerning Sharia law is an attempt to move Egyptians away from their "Islamic identity."

Alaa Abu El-Nasr, general secretary of the Building and Development Party, the political arm of the ultra-conservative Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyaa, has criticised the announcement of the 50-member committee's formation, saying that it does not give legitimacy to the current interim-government.

"The current regime does not have any democratic legitimacy. Our position following the ousting of president Morsi is clear; we consider the amendment of the constitution illegitimate," said the member of the Building and Development Party, adding that his party has refused any part in the committee.

"How could the people accept an unelected constituent assembly when the opposition in the time of president Morsi used to attack a constituent assembly chosen by an elected president," Abu El Nasr said.

The Building and Development Party and Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyaa are founding members of the Muslim Brotherhood-led coalition. 

The coalition, named the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, has already declared its complete refusal to adhere to the roadmap announced by Egypt's interim government after the ousting of Morsi.

The Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails, has been critical of the suspension of the 2012 constitution and any moves to revise it since Morsi's ouster.   

Presidential spokesman Ihab Badawi announced on Sunday the composition of the 50-member committee that has been tasked with amending the suspended 2012 constitution.

The committee will examine amendments drawn up by a separate group of legal experts formed in July, and is to produce a final draft of the constitution within 60 days.

Interim President Adly Mansour will then put the constitution to a national referendum within 30 days of receiving the final draft. It will become effective upon public approval.

The 2012 constitution was suspended as part of the roadmap put forth by the Egyptian armed forces, together with political groups and public figures.

Under Morsi, Egypt's non-Islamist political forces have repeatedly argued the suspended constitution was not representative of all layers of society and limited many freedoms, blaming the majority Islamist members of the outgoing constituent assembly for ignoring their recommendations.

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