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Egypt’s Junta to Oversee Constitution Draft

Published: 15/12/2011 01:33:31 PM GMT
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CAIRO - Following a surprisingly strong show of Islamists in the first stage of elections, Egypt's military rulers have announced they will appoint a c (more)

CAIRO - Following a surprisingly strong show of Islamists in the first stage of elections, Egypt's military rulers have announced they will appoint a council to oversee the drafting of constitution, adding that the elected parliament would not be representative, the Daily Telegraph on Thursday, December 8.

"We are in the early stages of democracy," Gen. Mukhtar Mulla, a member of the ruling military council, told reporters.

"The parliament is not representing all sectors of society."

According to the constitution's amendments approved last March, the new elected parliament will be entrusted with forming a 100-member constituent assembly to write the new constitution.

The new constitution will determine the nature of Egypt's post-Mubarak political system.

However, Mulla said the new council will coordinate with parliament and the Cabinet to ensure the assembly is representative of all religions, professions, and political parties.

Over the past two weeks, Egyptian voters went to polling stations in the first stage of elections to choose both parties and individuals in the complex electoral system.

The vote, the first since Mubarak's fall earlier on February, was the freest and fairest in Egypt's modern history.

The results showed the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom & Justice Party (FJP) who secured 36 seats for its individual candidates as well as the Salafi al-Nour party who won 6 seats.

As for the party lists, the FJP came first with 36.6 percent of valid votes, with the Salafi party al-Nour's list second at 24.4 percent.

Mulla's remarks followed the swearing in of a new government formed by the newly picked Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri on Wednesday, December 7.

While the army yesterday granted Prime Minister Ganzouri presidential powers, it said these exclude oversight of the military and judiciary. It has also said it will remain the ultimate authority in Egypt until a president is elected next year.

Asked whether the new council is an attempt to limit the influence of the Salafis, Mulla said: "Absolutely. ... The Egyptian people won't allow this to happen."

"There will be standards agreed upon by all the Egyptian people," Mulla said. "This is not out of mistrust of the parliament. What we are seeing is free and fair elections ... but it certainly doesn't represent all sectors of society."

New Direction

Though Egypt's liberal forces have been critical for the junta over the past 10 months, experts expected that some liberals may find solace in the military's move after the huge shift in the ground caused by the latest election results.

"Many of the liberal forces, which were before against interference of the military, will not object whenever there are attempts (by Islamists) to alter basic civic rights," Ammar Ali Hassan, a political analyst, told the Daily Telegraph.

In his comments to foreign media reporters, Mulla said he did not think anyone would object to the need for a representative constituent assembly.

But a previous attempt by the ruling military to interfere caused a backlash from both Islamists and liberals alike.

Last November, anger against the military council exploded after a cabinet proposal to set out constitutional principles that would permanently shield the army from civilian oversight.

Protesters also rejected the idea floated earlier that the military council would name 80 of the 100 members of the constituent assembly.

Mulla's comments were immediately rejected by Egypt's Al-Nour party as well as the FJP.

"We have a significant presence in parliament. They must also protect our opinions and protect our presence in governing institutions," Youssri Hamad, spokesman for Al-Nour.

Hamad added that the military council suggestions were a mere trial to reassure the liberals in society at the expense of legitimate demands by popular Islamist groups.

Saad el-Katanti, the Secretary General of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, said his group agrees that all sectors must be represented in the constituent assembly.

But he objected to the military council's attempt to guide or oversee the process.

"Why does the council want to interfere in the will (of the people)?" he said.

Answering that criticism, Mulla said this is not the US Congress.

"We still have instability in Egypt. We have economic and security problems. The conditions are different," he said.

"When the parliament is in stable conditions, it can elect and choose whatever it wants. For now, all sectors of society must participate in constructing the new constitution."

Reproduced with permission from

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