Egypt tries again to form constitution-writing body

The assembly has the delicate task of drawing up a constitution that will define the role of the president after he is elected in a run-off vote next week.

Egypt tries again to form constitution-writing body

World Bulletin/News Desk

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.

"We have invited the elected parliament members to a joint meeting at 11 am on 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.

Shafik says is pro-youth, internet

In an another note, young Egyptians who are savvy about the Internet and want greater freedom would have nothing to fear if former Hosni Mubarak military commander Ahmed Shafik is elected president, the candidate said on Friday.

Seeking to quell fears of youth activists who say a Shafik presidency would bring back Mubarak's autocratic state, the former air force commander said he would not clamp down on freedom of expression.

"No youth will be jailed for his political activities or expressing his views in the new republic (of Egypt). Fear not for your future," Shafik said at a press conference while thousands of protesters rallied in Cairo's Tahrir Square against him.

"I follow what you write on the Internet, Facebook and Twitter. I promise to guarantee the freedom of the Internet. We will develop telecommunication," he said, addressing youth from the setting of a five-star golf resort on the outskirts of Cairo.

Outside the plush hotel where Shafik addressed supporters and journalists, two interior ministry trucks full of riot police stood guard while senior police officers were present at the event. Some said they supported Shafik.

"Tahrir Square has witnessed what you have done for Egypt. I promise that it and other squares across the country will continue to remain free and secure for the freedom of expression," Shafik said.

The latest protests in Tahrir were triggered by the verdict in a trial of Mubarak on June 2, which added to suspicions that the former president's old guard remained in charge. The court jailed Mubarak for life but freed six of his top security officials.

Protesters have demanded a retrial and enforcement of a law passed by parliament but not implemented that Mubarak-era officials be banned from participating in politics. The constitutional court will rule on the law's validity on June 14.

Judicial sources told Reuters the court will likely reject the law, effectively allowing Shafik to continue in the race.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 09 Haziran 2012, 15:13