Egypt charter: Liberals boycott picking panel

2012-06-13 14:00
Egypt military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi. (AFP)

Egypt military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi. (AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

  • Egypt
    This book is jam packed with all the fascinating facts and information you need to know about Egypt. Now R149.00
    buy now
Cairo - Egypt's march to democracy has hit another obstacle when liberals boycotted a parliament session called to name members of a panel to draw up a new constitution, complaining that Islamists are trying to dominate the process.

A new constitution is key to Egypt's turbulent transition to democratic rule after decades of authoritarian regimes. Many Egyptians hope the new charter will curtail the powers enjoyed by their presidents and enshrine freedom of expression and peaceful protests.

However, some fear that Islamists may want the document to inject more religion in government and restrict liberties.

Tuesday's joint session of the parliament's two chambers, which are dominated by Islamists, was called by military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi after negotiations between political factions to agree on the makeup of the panel reached a deadlock.

A court ruling disbanded a previous panel that was packed with Islamists. Liberal lawmakers say the Islamists were again seeking to dominate the new panel, and have filed a court case to declare the body illegal. The voting for the panel members went ahead without the estimated 60 lawmakers who walked out. Votes were being counted late on Tuesday. The joint session included more than 600 lawmakers.

The powers of Egypt's key state institutions have been the subject of intense dispute since the military council suspended the old constitution and took power when Mubarak stepped down in February 2011.

"It's Egypt's constitution we are talking about here," said Ahmed Said, leader of the secularist Free Egyptians party. "The math of majority and minority should not apply."

Other non-Islamist lawmakers complained that the parliament hurriedly adopted legislation late on Monday night to govern the selection and work of the panel. They saw the move as an attempt by the Islamists to head off a possible court ruling disbanding the new panel.

The future

"I see that what has been done carries a hint of unconstitutionality," said independent lawmaker Youssef el-Badry. "We have pulled out rather than take part in an illegal process."

Muslim Brotherhood lawmakers say they are abiding by an agreement reached with non-Islamist groups that they equally share the 100 seats. Liberals counter that the Brotherhood and other Islamists are giving their lawmakers more seats than agreed and devising a selection process that would give their supporters some of the seats assigned to other groups.

The liberals insist that the drafting of the constitution should not be influenced by the Islamist parties dominating parliament. The Brotherhood and other Islamist parties won more than 70 percent of the seats in the elections held over three months starting in November.

The result of the first round of the presidential election held last month saw non-Islamists in a field of 13 candidates win more than half the votes. However, because they split their votes among several of the 13, none of them made the two-person runoff.

That will pit Brotherhood figure Mohammed Morsi against Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak's last prime minister 16-17 June — leaving the young, mostly secular Egyptians who drove the uprising last year with no representative.

Liberals, secularists, women and minority Christians say the Islamists want to dominate the process of writing a new constitution to give it an Islamist slant. The move, they claim, is part of a grand design by the Brotherhood and its allies to take over the main state institutions, including the executive and the legislature.

"It is a constitutional panel in which Egyptians don't see themselves represented," top reform campaigner and Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei wrote on his Twitter account on Tuesday. "It is the end of a transitional period in which they are trying to bury the revolution and impound the future."

Public decency

The delay in drafting a new constitution is one of several legal disputes that have plagued the transitional period, any one of which could throw the process into disarray.

On Thursday, Egypt's highest court — the Supreme Constitutional Court — rules on whether legislation banning Mubarak regime figures from running for office is constitutional. If it is approved, Shafiq would be booted out of the race, the runoff vote would be cancelled and the first round of voting would be repeated.

The court could also uphold a lower court ruling that the law governing parliamentary elections was unconstitutional. That decision could lead to the dissolution of the parliament or a partial repeat of the election.

In a separate development on Tuesday, prosecutors requested to lift parliamentary immunity from two lawmakers.

One was an Islamist lawmaker caught by police last week while "violating public decency" with a woman in a car parked on a quiet street along the Cairo-Alexandria highway. Ali Wanees denies the charge.

The allegation against Wanees is particularly embarrassing since he belongs to the ultraconservative Salafi doctrine which advocates a strict interpretation of Islam's Shariah law, including the segregation of the sexes.

In the second case, military prosecutors are seeking to question lawmaker Ziad el-Oleimi for allegedly insulting Egypt's military ruler in February. El-Oleimi, who was beaten by military police during a protest after he was elected, referred to Tantawi as a donkey during a rally earlier this month. El-Oleimi used the word as part of an Egyptian proverb.

He said that the case against him proves that "Mubarak's regime has not fallen". He said if his immunity is lifted, he could be tried in a military court.

"It will not be fair," he told The Associated Press.

- AP
Read more on:    mohammed morsi  |  hosni mubarak  |  hussein tantawi  |  mohamed elbaradei  |  ahmed shafiq  |  egypt  |  north africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Pre-order your iPhone 6 at kalahari.com

Hurry and pre-order your own iPhone 6 now at SA’s favourite online store!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at kalahari.com

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Mind power dominates and can help you to uncover things from a deeper level, but it can also create entanglements if you let your...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.