Egypt rulers demand constitution panel

2012-06-06 10:20
Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, head of Egypt's ruling military council. (AFP)

Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, head of Egypt's ruling military council. (AFP)

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

Cairo - Egypt's ruling military council has set a 48-hour deadline for political parties to finalize the formation of a 100-member panel to write a new constitution, or it will draw up its own blueprint.

Lawmaker Mustafa Bakri on Tuesday outlined the ultimatum after representatives of 18 parties and independent lawmakers met with the head of the council, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi.

The process has been deadlocked since the Islamist-dominated parliament tried to stack the body with its own people, leading to a walkout by secular and liberal members and the disbanding of the panel by a court order.

The dispute mirrors the splits in Egypt, two weeks before a presidential election runoff between a Muslim Brotherhood member and the last prime minister to serve the ousted president Hosni Mubarak — the two most polarising candidates.

It also highlighted the contentious role of the ruling military in post-Mubarak Egypt. The military rulers have drawn stiff criticism for their handling of the transition. They pledged to turn power back to a civilian government once a new president is in place, but there are some hints that they might try to hold back at the last moment if the outcome of the election is not in their favor, possibly using lack of a new constitution as a reason.

Several parties boycotted the Tuesday meeting, including the Brotherhood, the country's most influential political group. Saad el-Katatni of the Brotherhood, who is the speaker of the parliament, lashed out at the military council. "No one can strip the parliament of its authority to issue legislation or laws," he said.

Bakri said that if parties failed to name an assembly, the military council will issue "a supplementary constitutional declaration" to lay the blueprints for the panel.

Yasser Ali, a spokesperson for Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi, said if the military council went ahead with its declaration, "it will be hijacking legislative authority from parliament".


"We won't recognise whatever comes from the military council. This is our position," he said.

The conflict over the constitutional panel adds tension to an already charged political scene, coming three days after Mubarak was given a life sentence for failing to stop the killing of protesters during last year's uprising. Many uprising stalwarts demanded a death sentence.

Since the sentencing Saturday, angry Egyptians have swept into the streets, demanding justice and denouncing the whole election process.

On Tuesday, tens of thousands of protesters converged from several mosques around Cairo on Tahrir Square, the focal point of the uprising. A long banner read: "In the name of the martyrs' blood, there will be a new revolution."

Protesters demanded enforcement of "isolation law" that prevents Mubarak-era officials from contesting elections. The law, passed by parliament but still awaiting a ruling by Egypt's Constitutional Court, might lead to a cancellation of the election. Others demanded formation of "civilian presidential council" to take over from the military.

Morsi is labeling himself as "the candidate of the revolution" and is trying to rally voters from among revolutionary and liberal groups to confront his rival candidate, Ahmed Shafiq, as Morsi tried to capitalise on the fear by many Egyptians that Shafiq would recreate Mubarak's repressive regime.


However, the Brotherhood has been also postponing talks over formation of the constitutional panel, hoping to finalise it only after presidential elections.

Analysts believe if an Islamist is elected, the Brotherhood will not press to change Egypt's political system from presidential to parliamentary — a change that would give the Islamist-led parliament greater powers. If its candidate is defeated, then the Brotherhood would push to change the system to favour the parliament.

Many liberals blame the ruling council for not initially setting out clear standards for the panel in the country's interim constitution, passed last year after the military council froze the old constitution.

"This is the trap the ruling council has put us in. Now it has to correct its mistakes," said Ahmed Khairi, spokesperson of Free Egyptians party.

- AP
Read more on:    mohammed morsi  |  hosni mubarak  |  hussein tantawi  |  ahmed shafiq  |  egypt  |  north africa

Read News24’s Comments Policy 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
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

When is a mountain more than just a mountain? 2014-12-18 07:26

When it’s an adventure! A group of Old Mutual employees found out how much is enough courage, endurance and camaraderie to take on Africa's highest peak.


How to make this a sensual, sexy summer!

Summer is the perfect time for rekindling cooling passions and for shedding your inhibitions as well as your clothes…


I love summer.24

This is what South Africans Googled in 2014!
This hilarious song is your new holiday anthem
The world's least visited destination is breathtaking!
LOL treadmill fail!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go! - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy 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


You may be emotionally defensive or reserved today. You need to step up today as there may be extra responsibilities to deal more

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


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 network.


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.