Secularists to dominate Egypt’s final constitution-drafting process

Published on english Ahram online, by Gamal Essam El-Din, August 26, 2013 ( see also our new blog: politics for the 99%).

The first stage of Egypt’s post-30 June political roadmap was completed on Monday. A ten-member technical committee entrusted with amending the 2012 Islamist-backed constitution passed its draft to interim President Adly Mansour.

The committee was formed in accordance with Article 28 of the constitutional declaration issued by Mansour on 8 July, after Islamist president Mohamed Morsi was ousted from office on 3 July.

The second stage is expected to begin within days, with President Mansour issuing a decree forming a 50-member committee representing all segments of society to write the final draft of Egypt’s new constitution.

According to Article 29 of the 8 July declaration, the 50-member committee must include representatives of political parties, intellectuals, workers, farmers, unionists, and national councils.

It must also be composed of representatives of Al-Azhar, Egyptian Churches, the armed forces, police, public figures and at least ten figures representing youth and women.

Informed sources close to the ten-member technical committee revealed to Ahram Online that: “The presidency has already received the names nominated by political, religious, social and economic institutions to form the 50-member committee.”

The lists show that secular forces are slated to gain a majority in the 50-member committee entrusted with completing the constitution before it is put to a national referendum.

Islamists, who dominated the 100-member constituent assembly that drafted Egypt’s 2012 constitution, will be a minority.

The secularists will primarily belong to liberal and leftist (Nasserist and nationalist) factions. Islamist representatives will be confined to two forces: the ultraconservative Salafist Nour Party and Al-Azhar.

The initial list of the secularist representatives will include liberals such as former foreign minister Amr Moussa, Journalists’ Syndicate leader and Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies director Diaa Rashwan, and leftists such as Sameh Ashour, Lawyers’ Syndicate chairman and chairman of the Arab Nasserist Party.

The list will also include Mahmoud Badr and Mohamed Abdel-Aziz, liberals representing the Tamarod movement which spearheaded the 30 June protests against Morsi.

Liberals will include Manal El-Taibi, a female political and human rights activist who withdrew from the Islamist-dominated constituent assembly in 2012 because she objected to articles imposing a strict Islamic code and violating the rights of women and children.

Liberals are also expected to include high-profile constitutional law professor Mohamed Nour Farahat, representing the Egyptian Social Democratic Party.

At the top of the list of leftist members is Abdel-Ghaffar Shukr, representing the Socialist Popular Current and Tagammu.

Informed sources told Ahram Online that the presidency stipulated that lawyers’, journalists’, doctors’ and engineers’ syndicates should send one representative each.

The Engineers’ Syndicate is currently controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails, and it is unclear how its representative will be chosen, given that the Islamic group has been opposing the ongoing roadmap in continued protests against Morsi’s overthrow.

As for religious institutions, sources indicated that Hassan Al-Shafie, deputy to Al-Azhar’s grand imam, is likely to represent Al-Azhar. Another figure representing Al-Azhar is expected to join the committee.

Informed sources also indicated that figures representing Egypt’s three main Churches (Coptic, Anglican and Catholic) will be selected as members of the committee. Anpa Pola, archbishop of the Nile Delta’s Tanta province, will represent the Coptic Church, while priest Safwat El-Biyadi is expected to represent the Anglican Church.

Major-General Mamdouh Shahin is expected to represent the armed forces, although several political activists accuse him of collaborating with Islamists while drafting the 2012 constitution.

The controversial Article 219: … //

… Al-Azhar stressed that the Supreme Constitutional Court must be left to deliver the final say on Islamic Sharia issues.

The ten-member technical committee decided to cut Article 4 short, stripping Al-Azhar’s council of grand clerics the right to have a say on Islamic Sharia issues.
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