06/13/2012, 00.00
EGYPT

New 100-member constituent assembly announced

The first assembly was dissolved on 10 April because it was under too much Islamist influence (Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis). The new assembly will have only 39 parliamentarians compared to 60 in the previous one. Delegates from al-Azhar and Christian denominations will also be present. The first session is set for the end of the week.

Cairo (AsiaNews/ Agencies) - Egypt's parliament announced the names of the 100-member constituent assembly whose task is to write the country's new constitution more than a year after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak. The first assembly was dissolved last April because its membership was too skewed towards Islamist movements (Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis), who have been accused of trying to monopolise political life. At that time, Islamists had used their parliamentary majority to appoint 60 lawmakers and ideologues from the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis.

The new body will include 39 parliamentarians, mostly Islamists but also seven young women who took part in the Jasmine revolution; five Islamic scholars from al-Azhar Universities and other Islamic institutions; four delegates representing Christian denominations, 13 representatives of trade unions; 21 important businessmen; and 19 legal experts and law professors. The liberal nationalist Wafd party was excluded because in the recent elections it called on voters to boycott the poll by spoiling their ballot.

People's Assembly (lower house) Speaker Saad al-Katatny announced that the new assembly would hold its first session at the end of the week.

Under new regulations approved recently by parliament and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, constitutional proposals need a 67 per cent majority to be adopted by the assembly, a requirement that should limit the influence of Islamist parties. The latter however may still seek votes among non-political members whose names and orientation have not yet been made public.

Meanwhile, Egyptians are preparing to head for the runoff in the presidential election next Saturday and Sunday. They will have to choose between Ahmed Shafiq, a former prime Minister under Mubarak backed by supporters of the former regime and the military, and Mohamed Morsy, leader of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, who is supported by Salafis and other Islamist movements.

Many of the young Egyptians who took part in the 'Arab spring' said that they did not feel represented by either candidate and so will not vote.

 

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