Cairo (AsiaNews) - "The suspension
of the constituent assembly is an attempt to hold in check the excessive power
of Islamist parties. It is also a sign of hope for justice in our country,"
said Fr Rafik Greiche, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church as he spoke
about the decision by an administrative court to block the proceedings of the
assembly. In its ruling, the court decided that the Islamist-dominated body was
unconstitutional and lacked the legitimacy to draft the country's new
The Supreme Council of the Armed
Forces (SCAF) yesterday accepted the court's decision, stressing that the assembly
was not representative of the Egyptian people.
Christians, al Azhar and
pro-democracy parties are concerned that the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists
are doing everything they can to turn Egypt into an Islamic state.
For security reasons, the court has
not yet made public the reasons for its ruling, which was triggered by
complaints filed by Liberal parties and women's groups. Radical parties took
advantage of Article 60 of the constitutional declaration. The latter defines
the powers of the constituent assembly but not the criteria to nominate its
members, Fr Greiche explained.
With a 70 per cent majority in
parliament, Islamists took 48 of the 100 seats available, making any challenge impossible.
They also limited representation from groups outside of party politics, like al
Azhar University and the Coptic Orthodox Church, who pulled out their
representatives to protest the Islamist power. For their part, the Catholic
Church and other groups were simply excluded altogether from the assembly.
"Egypt is in a new deadlock," Fr
Greiche said. "Today, SCAF announced a new decree to define the criteria by
which constituent assembly members will be selected. But so far, no one knows
how to act. This threatens upcoming presidential elections in June."
At present, a bill that would bar
members of the former Mubarak regime is under discussion. However, Mubarak's
former vice president, Omar Suleiman, has taken everyone by surprise and
announced that he is running. "He is a shadowy figure and is disliked by the
people," the priest said.
Under the old regime, Suleiman ran
the secret services. In recent days, he threatened his detractors by saying
that he had secret papers that could compromise the reputation of his main
adversaries, like Khairat el-Shater, who is running for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Fr Greiche noted that the main
candidates represent parties connected to the armed forces or extremist
movements. Liberal parties still have to pick a candidate to represent their
Candidates have until 27 April to
submit their names. Amr Moussa, a former secretary general of the Arab League,
could run for pro-democracy forces. (S.C.)