Egypt’s charter panel convenes amid crisis
CAIRO - The Associated Press
Liberal MPs boycott the panel which tasked with drawing a new charter. REUTERS photoA panel tasked with drawing up Egypt’s new constitution convened yesterday for the first time, despite a boycott by liberal members who accuse the Islamists that dominate the committee of trying to hijack the charter-writing process.
The bitter dispute over the makeup of the panel erupted over the weekend after parliament, where the Muslim Brotherhood and ultraconservative Salafis hold an overwhelming majority, named nearly 60 of their supporters to the committee, but only six women and six Christians. That triggered an outcry from liberals and seculars.
At the committee’s first session yesterday, a quarter of the panel’s members were absent. Nearly 20 people already have formally pulled out from the committee to protest what they describe as the Islamists’ aspirations to monopolize the constitution-writing process. Among those to withdraw their support are two major liberal political parties the Egyptian Bloc and Wafd party. Two more panel members walked out of yesterday’s meeting in protest after the committee elected its chief despite demands that the session be postponed until the crisis is resolved.
Also yesterday, Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court withdrew its representative from the constitutional panel following allegations by the Brotherhood that the government threatened to use the court to dissolve parliament.