Judicial complaint challenges Egypt’s Constituent Assembly closed sessions

Ahram Online, Wednesday 30 Oct 2013

The head of the Parliamentary Correspondents' Association files a complaint at the State Council, defying Egypt’s Constituent Assembly decision to vote on draft constitution behind closed doors

Egypt's 50-member constitution-amendment committee (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Mahmoud Nafadi, head of the Press Syndicate's Parliamentary Correspondents' Association, filed Wednesday a complaint at the State Council to challenge Egypt’s Constituent Assembly decision to vote on the draft constitution behind closed doors, according to Egypt’s state news agency MENA.

A 50-member committee is currently amending Egypt's 2012 Islamist-backed constitution. A recent media blackout imposed by the assembly on its debates has sparked controversy. On 22 October, the committee’s reserve members and journalists were banned from the inaugural session organised to discuss and vote on the first draft constitution articles. Committee Media Spokesman Mohamed Salmawy later said the constitution-drafting panel was polishing off the final charter draft in "closed" rather than "confidential" sessions.

Nafadi said Wednesday his complaint referred to a speech made by Amr Moussa, after his election as head of the 50-member committee, in which the latter promised the assembly would work under the supervision of public opinion.

Threatening to suggest to his association the boycott of press conferences organised by the committee spokesman, Nafadi added that the committee’s decision conflicted with the people’s right to the free flow of information.

Demonstrations are also scheduled to take place Wednesday at 3:30PM before the Shura Council (the Parliament's Upper House) building, where committee sessions are held, in protest against the decision taken by the constitution-drafting body to hold recent sessions behind closed doors.

Since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi by the military in July, following mass protests against his one-year rule, the country’s interim authorities have been following a transitional roadmap with the stated objective to lead the country to democracy. The amended constitution is to be presented to Interim President Adly Mansour early December for approval before heading to a national referendum. Presidential and parliamentary elections are also expected to take place once the charter is adopted.

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