By Heba Hesham
CAIRO: Head of the Journalists’ Syndicate, Mamdouh El-Wali said Saturday that the syndicate adheres to its decision to withdraw from the Constituent Assembly, describing the withdrawal as a national duty.
According to the official Middle East News Agency (MENA), the syndicate will only back-peddle on its decision if Al-Azhar and the Church and other streams decide to rejoin the assembly.
The Islamist-dominated parliament had voted to divide the assembly tasked with writing the new constitution equally between parliamentarians and public figures in a move deplored by liberals, secular-leaning forces and other institutions.
Both the Church and Al-Azhar withdrew from the panel, denouncing their meager representation and the domination of the assembly by Islamists, who control around 60 percent of the panel.
The National Front of Political Forces for Egypt, which comprises 14 liberal and leftist parties, agreed Saturday to renew their rejection of the current formation of the assembly and their refusal to bargain over the possibility of introducing new members or excluding others because they disagreed fundamentally with the selection criteria.
SCAF, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and 14 other parties signed an agreement late last month suggesting that the FJP give up 10 of its seats on the panel to be replaced by representatives of none-Islamists who were voted as substitutes.
“This is not enough because there are a number of institutions that aren’t represented at all,” Al-Wafd MP Margret Azer previously told Daily News Egypt.
Sameh Ashour, head of the Lawyers’ Syndicate and spokesman of the Front, said at a press conference Saturday that the front agrees to hold discussions on the selection criteria that would guarantee the representation of the whole spectrum of society without partisan predominance or exclusion.
“Guaranteeing the presence of Al-Azhar and the Egyptian churches and trade unions is a prerequisite for the continuation of any dialogue,” he said.
Saad El-Katatny, PA speaker and head of the assembly, set an April 10 deadline for members who withdrew in objection to determine their final stance, to allow the panel to take subsequent action.
Several key members of the panel refused last week the demand of 21 of those withdrew to repeat the election of the Constituent Assembly members based on clear criteria through which representatives of different sectors are selected and which guarantees that MPs would not dominate it.
Members of the panel said this would be a waste of precious time.
Hassan Nafea, political professor at Cairo University, previously told DNE that political powers are in a real bind since El-Katatny, his party the FJP and the Salafi Al-Nour Party are “stubborn.”
“We need creative ideas to work this out, but the inflexibility of the FJP and Al-Nour will not allow this,” he argued.
MP Wahid Abdel Meguid, member of the mediation committee between the panel and those who withdrew, said there are preparations for a new initiative to resolve the stalemate, according to the official daily Al-Ahram.
He pointed out that the initiative is still pending a response from the FJP and Al-Nour, stressing that he believes they are willing to enter a dialogue with their detractors to resolve the issue.