Egypt to have second go at constitution assembly

Previous body charged with writing a new constitution had been dissolved for failing to represent all interests.

June 9, 2012 14:31
1 minute read.
Egyptian parliament

Egyptian parliament 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Amr Dalsh)


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CAIRO - Egypt will try again on Tuesday to set up an assembly to write a new constitution, the parliament speaker said on Saturday, after the previous such body was dissolved for failing to represent all interests following the fall of Hosni Mubarak's government.

The make-up of the constitutional committee has been in deadlock since April after a court ordered a previous body dissolved for being dominated by Islamists and failing to fairly represent Egypt's diverse society. Islamists control around 70 percent of parliament.

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"We have invited the elected parliament members to a joint meeting at 11 a.m. on Tuesday... to elect a 100-member assembly to prepare a new constitution for the state," Parliamentary speaker Saad al-Katatni said.

"All the political parties and powers have agreed that a full balance and representation of all powers and interests will be taken into consideration while forming the assembly," he added.

Katatni, who heads the parliamentary committee in charge of choosing the assembly's members and belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, the biggest parliamentary party, had asked public institutes, courts, syndicates and religious bodies on Friday for their nominations for the new assembly.

The new constitution is expected to define the president's powers and citizen rights. The delay in picking the panel has left Egypt in a constitutional vacuum one week before a final stage of a presidential vote on June 16-17.

The military council that took over after Mubarak was toppled last year has promised to hand over to a newly elected president by July 1, but it is unclear what authority the new head of state will have.

The military council on Tuesday gave political parties a 48-hour deadline to agree on the make-up of the new constitution-drafting assembly.

Parties indicated during a meeting with the military council on Thursday that the assembly would be made up of 39 members of political parties and 61 public figures including union members, lawyers, judges and religious leaders.

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