Bloomberg News

Egypt’s Military, Parties Meet to End Constitution-Panel Row

March 29, 2012

A military-sponsored meeting of Egyptian political parties discussed ways to make a constitutional-drafting panel more representative to address objections over its makeup, the state news agency reported.

The meeting looked into means to ensure “effective representation for all parties, political forces, civil society and public personalities” in the panel through including names from a backup list for the body’s membership, the Middle East News agency said, citing a statement read by lawmaker Moustafa Bakri. The head of the ruling military council, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, attended the meeting, it said.

Several secular members of the 100-member panel have withdrawn from the body with critics arguing that the process of selecting its members favored Islamists and has resulted in the underrepresentation of groups such as women and legal experts. The disagreements add to the turmoil surrounding the transition to democracy in the Arab world’s most populous nation following last year’s uprising that led to Hosni Mubarak’s ouster.

Fourteen political parties including the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party agreed on the statement issued after the meeting, MENA said. Five parties including one co-founded by billionaire Naguib Sawiris objected, it said, a move that signals the meeting may not end the row over the panel’s formation.

About a quarter of the Constituent Assembly, as the panel is called, didn’t attend its inaugural session yesterday. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party makes up the largest bloc in parliament, which elected the panel and decided it would include 50 members from parliament. A bloc comprising Salafis, followers of an austere interpretation of Islam, is the next-biggest in the assembly.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mariam Fam in Cairo mfam1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net


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