Egyptian Islamists allow equal role of secularists in constitution formation
11 Jun 2012 02:30 GMT
 
Cairo: The Islamic political parties in Egypt have allowed the political groups, representing secular views, to share equal part in the constitutional writing for smooth governance in the country which has recently experienced a revolution for political change. By Farhan Iqbal

Cairo: The Islamic political parties in Egypt have allowed the political groups, representing secular views, to share equal part in the constitutional writing for smooth governance in the country which has recently experienced a revolution for political change.

The political parties in Egypt were divided in two blocs, Islamic and secular, over the issue that who will write the new constitution of the country and there was a months-long deadlock between the political blocs having opposite views.

However, they reached an agreement at the eleventh hour that Islamists and secularists will share equal role in constitution writing as the ruling military council had threatened the political forces against a unilateral action if they failed to break the deadlock with concrete solution. The ruling military is supposed to transfer power to a civilian government by the next month, July.

The Islamists and secularists, for averting the military’s unilateral action, resolved the bitter deadlock and finally decided after almost six months of negotiations that they would represent equally in the constitution assembly which has been assigned to write Egypt’s new constitution.

The parties agreed that there will be equal representation of Islamists and secularists in the 100-member body i.e. 50 members from each party. This is a victory for secular and liberal parties of the country even though they have only about a quarter representation in the parliament as compared with the Islamic political forces. They had boycotted the first assembly that was formed after Islamist parties dominated it, and a court later dissolved the body.

In December elections last year, Islamic parties won the three-fourth seats in the parliament with an overwhelming majority. Nonetheless, more than 50 percent votes went to non-Islamic candidates in the first round of presidential elections.

A major Islamic party, Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), wanted the constitution to be more Islamic whereas secular forces were willing to curtail the constitution in becoming an Islamic charter.

The leader of the secular-oriented Egyptian Social Democratic Party, Mohamed Aboulghar, commented, “I think this is very important. This is a great step to protect Egypt against writing an Islamic constitution.”

However, Islamists and representatives of FJP declined to comment on the major development in constitution writing.

The smooth transition of power, in Egypt after Hosni Mubarak’s ouster last year, highly relies on writing a new constitution for the country as it will not only define powers of the new president and the parliament but it will also determine the relationships between Islam and the state besides defining the military’s role in politics.

The Egyptian ruling military has made it clear that it is not willing to shun its political influence and privileges in the country even after handing over power to an elected president.

The Islamists and secularists still have to decide mutually the names of the 100-members committee tasked to write a new constitution. They will also negotiate over the non-political members to ensure an even split between the Islamic political figures and secular representatives of Egypt.



-- Al Arabiya Digital


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