By Safaa Abdoun
CAIRO: Parliament Speaker Saad El-Katatny denied reports of a draft law regulating the criterion of forming the Constituent Assembly tasked with drafting Egypt’s constitution, as political negotiations faltered.
In a press statement, El-Katatny said that the PA assigned Chancellor Mahmoud El-Khodairy, head of the PA’s constitution and legislation committee, to hold sessions with representatives of national and political powers, associations, religious and social institutions, civil society, professional syndicates and representatives of all ideologies and political affiliations as well as law and constitution scholars to agree on the criterion of choosing the Constituent Assembly members, according to the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) official website.
El-Katatny also noted that they have to take into consideration Article 60 of the constitutional declaration and the court ruling.
The Administrative Court of the State Council had issued a ruling last week invalidating the parliament’s decision regarding the makeup of the Constituent Assembly.
The ruling halted the implementation of the decision of the Islamist-dominated parliament to evenly divide the composition of the assembly between MPs and public figures. The 50-50 split of assembly members from inside and outside parliament was widely deplored by liberal and secular-leaning political parties, Al-Azhar, the Church, representatives of the judiciary and other prestigious institutions.
Fifteen political parties, including the FJP, Al-Nour, Al-Wasat, Free Egyptians, Social Democratic and Civilization Parties met on Thursday to discuss the criterion on choosing members of the constituent assembly. However, the meeting ended with no agreement reached, according to Sameh Ashour, head of the National Front, which includes parties that are objecting to the part formation of the assembly.
“No agreement has been reached with the parliament’s majority during yesterday’s meeting regarding the criterion of the assembly’s members selection,” he said.
On the other hand, Ashour explained that all attendees have asserted the importance of having all segments of society represented in the assembly in accordance of Article 60 of the constitutional declaration, which states that the MPs should elect members of the Constituent Assembly to draft the constitution within six months, the writing to take six months, and then call for a referendum within 15 days.
On his part, FJP member and MP Mohamed El-Beltagy said that the new negotiations are a chance to correct past mistakes.
“There should be a criterion and rules for the members to achieve national accord, a reduction in the representation of both houses of parliament, and approving a voting ratio that will guarantee wider consensus away from control of the majority,” he said.
Last Sunday, members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, led by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, met with heads of 17 political parties with parliamentary representation. These included the FJP, the Salafi Al-Nour and the liberal Al-Wafd Parties as well as a number of MPs, who discussed with the army generals the Constituent Assembly stalemate.
Tantawi reportedly said in the meeting, according to MP Mostafa Bakry, that the presidential election will not be held before a new constitution is drafted to set the authorities of the president.
SCAF members, lawmakers and heads of political parties will meet again on April 22 to determine more specific selection criteria for members of the panel.
However, Ashour said that its unconfirmed as no agreement has been reached yet.