Members’ withdrawals make constituent assembly illegitimate, experts say

Egypt’s next constitution will not be legitimate became of the frequent withdrawals of members elected to the constituent assembly, law experts say.

Many secular and liberal members of the Parliament-elected panel tasked with drafting the new constitution have criticized its Islamist-dominated makeup and decided to withdraw.

Constitutional law expert Mohamed Nour Farahat proposed two ways of resolving the issue. He first suggested that Parliament issue a law on standards and procedures for the formation of the assembly.

“Then a joint meeting for the People’s Assembly and Shura Council members elected to choose the assembly members should be held. The assembly should start its work by wide consensus and not be seized by a specific political group,” Farahat said.

Farahat proposed outlining the new standards of the assembly formation.

“One-third of the members should be law professors and constitutional experts. The second third should include representatives of civil society organizations. The last third should represent all political parties in Parliament equally. Representation of women, Copts, Nubians and residents of remote areas should be considered.”

Farahat said a second solution is for the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to issue a constitutional declaration with standards and procedures of forming the assembly, and then it should be re-formed. Farahat hinted that this solution would be used if Parliament is reluctant to re-form the committee.

If the current situation continues — especially after the Supreme Constitutional Court representative elected to the assembly withdrew — “the new constitution will be illegitimate,” Farahat said.

Meanwhile, legal expert Yehia al-Gamal said the only solution is for the Administrative Court to rule that the assembly’s formation is unconstitutional.

“In case the assembly resumes writing the constitution amid objections, we will be going through a critical period in light of a belief by a specific political faction that it’s everything, while the others are nothing,” Gamal said.

He said this would be similar to what the former ruling National Democratic Party did in 2010, which sparked the revolution.

Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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