Region | Egypt

Ruling on constitution panel delayed amid splits

Liberals accuse Islamists of seeking to craft discriminatory charter

  • By Ramadan Al Sherbini, Correspondent
  • Published: 18:08 October 2, 2012
  • Gulf News

Cairo: The Administrative Court on Tuesday adjourned until October 9 a decision on lawsuits challenging the legality of a commission tasked with drafting a constitution for Egypt.

Liberals and Islamists packed the courthouse in Cairo where more than 40 lawsuits were filed against the commission, set up by the now-dissolved parliament.

The litigants claim that the current composition of the Constituent Assembly violates a temporary constitution approved in a referendum in March last year, saying the panel unlawfully continues to include members of parliament.

The same court in April invalidated a previous constitution panel for being dominated by Islamists.

Liberals have recently voiced worries that the current Islamist-controlled assembly will produce a constitution restricting freedoms and discriminating against minorities.

Chairman of the incumbent commission Hossam Al Geriyani, a former judge, has said that Islamist President Mohammad Mursi would have the legal power to re-form the assembly if the court dissolved it. “Since its creation, the assembly has been the target of criticisms,” he was quoted as telling a European Union delegation in Cairo on Monday.

He added that any new assembly would build on what the current panel has “achieved”, expecting a draft constitution to be completed by next month.

Several liberal politicians, including the two ex-presidential contenders Amr Mousa and Hamdeen Sabahi and prominent reformist Mohammad Al Baradei, last week started campaigning for a “balanced” constitution not dominated by Islamists. Some liberal members of the assembly have threatened to quit if Islamists have the final say in the draft.

The new constitution, to be put up for a public vote before its final approval, is to clearly identify Egypt’s identity, presidential powers and the army’s future role.

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