Constituent Assembly Deadline Passes in Egypt, Conflict Ensues

Article Summary
Fresh conflict has surfaced in Egypt following the registration deadline for prospective Constituent Assembly members. Imad Fouad, Adel al-Darjali, and Hamdy Dabash report that the biggest bone of contention surrounds Al-Azhar’s inclusion as a "civil force," which caused some political blocs to walk out of the meetings.

On June 10 at 6:00pm, the General Secretariat of the People's Assembly announced that the registration period for membership in the Constituent Assembly had expired, despite resentment over the short time frame. The Constituent Assembly, also known as "the 100-member body," is tasked with drafting the constitution. Advisor Sami Mahran, Secretary General of the Council, said that the quick deadline was due to a "lack of time." Meanwhile, a meeting of civil (secular) parties was sharply divided over recognizing Islamic university Al-Azhar and Al-Wasat party as civil forces.

An hour before the deadline, the registration committee had received the names of 350 assembly-member candidates. The candidates represented trade unions, federations of chambers of commerce and industry, the government (which nominated the Minister of Justice and Assistant Minister of Interior), the armed forces (which nominated Major General Mamdouh Shaheen, Assistant Minister of Defense for Legal Affairs), Al-Azhar (which nominated former Mufti Nasr Farid Wasel, head of the Arabic Language Academy Hassan El Shafei and head of Al-Azhar University Usama al-Abd) and the three churches, which nominated Bishop Paula, Bishop Youhanna Qolta and Reverend Safwat Bayaadi.

The most prominent public figures who registered their candidacy were ​​former Prime Minister Abdul Aziz Hegazi and former Finance Ministers Mustafa Al-Saeed and Mohieldin Al-Gharib.

At the party level, the meetings held by civil parties on June 9 and 10 at the Wafd party headquarters witnessed many intense disputes, most of which were related to the representation of public and party figures. Representatives of Egyptian bloc parties (such as the Free Egyptians Party, Egyptian Social Democratic Party and the National Progressive Unionist Party) walked out of the June 10 meeting in protest against those selected for the Constituent Assembly, who they described as  "remnants" of the former regime. These parties also opposed the incorporation of Al-Wasat party into the civil bloc and objected to Al-Azhar’s inclusion in the civil forces.

Those attending the June 9 meeting initially agreed on 16 figures. Foremost among these were Wafd party representative Amr Moussa, Ayman Nour, Hussein Abdel Razek, Mohammed Nour Farhat and Manar el-Shorbagy. Meanwhile, El-Sayed el-Badawi, head of the Wafd party, apologized for not participating in the 100-member body (Constituent Assembly) and said that he wants "to make room for others."

In contrast, both the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice party and the Salafist Nour Party kept their nominees secret at the June 10 meeting, which took place at the Freedom and Justice party headquarters in Al-Manil. Signs indicated that the Salafist Nour party candidates are Ashraf Thabet, deputy speaker of the People's Assembly, and Talaat Marzouk, the party’s legal advisor.

Found in: egypt constitution, constituent assembly, egypt, al-azhar

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