Political parties to meet SCAF again Thursday regarding Constituent Assembly

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By Safaa Abdoun

CAIRO: The ruling military council is scheduled to meet again with political parties to discuss the ongoing crisis about the make up of the Constituent Assembly after a Tuesday meeting failed to bring immediate solutions.

Party heads who attended the meeting on Tuesday were to discuss the different recommendations within their parties. Forty-eight hours later, they would meet again with the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces (SCAF) to reach an agreement.

“Each party will meet with its members to discuss the way to ensure the representation of all segments of society in the constituent assembly that will draft the constitution as this is the document that will rule Egypt democratically,” said Rifaat El Saeed, head of Tagammu, who was present at the meeting.

Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and Chief of Staff Samy Anan met with 18 leaders of political parties. The meeting included head of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) Mohamed Morsi, head of the Free Egyptians Party Ahmed Saeed; head of the Justice Party and MP Mostafa El Naggar, head of Al-Wafd Al Sayed Al Badawy, and head of the Reform and Development Party and MP Mohamed Anwar Sadat.

Other political parties attending were Salafi Al-Nour, Building and Development, Al-Wasat, Al-Karama, The Union, Egyptian Citizen, Tagammu, Civilization, Democratic Peace and the Egyptian Arab Union.

Executive manager of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, Hany Naguib, denied rumors that the party refused to attend the meeting with SCAF.

“We are not present at the meeting because Dr. Mohamed Aboul Ghar is out of the country and he is our representative,” he explained, referring to the founder of the party who has withdrawn from the Constituent Assembly.

Tantawi told the politicians that the country is facing numerous challenges, stressing the need not to be distracted by smaller issues. The main goal “is getting the country to the safe harbor,” the official news portal, Egynews.net quoted Tantawi as saying.

Head of the Popular Alliance Socialist Party Abdel Ghaffar Shokr slammed SCAF and rejected its intervention, declaring that the party refused the meeting.

“This meeting reflects the power conflict between SCAF and the Muslim Brotherhood and we should not resort to anyone of them. We should resort to the Egyptian people only,” Shokr said.

Sixteen of the Constituent Assembly elected to draft Egypt’s new constitution declared Monday their withdrawal from the Islamist-dominated panel, in which members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s FJP and Al-Nour garnered around 75 percent of the 50 percent allocated to lawmakers, that is 38 members, while dominating about 40 percent (20 members) of the other half of the assembly. A total of 58 members, almost 60 percent of the assembly, were directly affiliated with Islamists.

In its first meeting on Wednesday, only 72 out of 100 members were present to vote a president. FJP member and PA Speaker Saad El-Katatny was elected head of the Assembly.

SCAF and the Brotherhood have stepped up the tone in an exchange of statements this week. “We were careful not to be provoked, but what happened recently is enough,” Tantawi said in a statement Sunday, referring to a statement released Saturday by the MB criticizing the government’s performance and questioning why the ruling SCAF is backing it despite its utter “failure.”

“This is a power struggle that has manifested itself in the form of a disagreement over the current government. Deep down it is much more than this as each party wants to protect its interests and the power balance after the presidential elections,” said Mazen Hassan, professor of electoral systems at Cairo University.

“Once again in the matter of the constituent assembly, SCAF has intervened as part of this power struggle with the MB,” he added.



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