Muslim Brotherhood suffers blow as Egypt court anulls constitutional panel (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Zvi Bar´el 04/11/12)
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On Tuesday, The Egyptian Administrative Court cancelled an earlier
parliament decision regarding the makeup of the country´s
constitutional drafting committee, effectively hampering Muslim
Brotherhood efforts to shape the country’s image.
According to a prior decision by Egyptian Parliament chairman Saad al-
Katatni, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, parliament members would
make up half of the constitutional drafting committee, with the other
half going to extra-parliamentary officials.
That distribution would have guaranteed a majority rule of the Muslim
Brotherhood along with other religious parties, which currently hold
more than 70 percent of seats on the committee.
The secular movements, along with Coptic Christians and women’s
organizations, were among those opposed to that make up. The groups
filed a complaint with the administrative court, not only against the
composition of the committee – from which many secular members have
already quit - but also urging a change in the method through which
representatives are chosen.
According to their complaint, the current method, which basically
allows the majority party in parliament to draft the constitution,
harms the foundation of a constitution, which should represent all
sectors of the public.
In addition, women and Copts are largely disenfranchised within the
constitutional committee, because the secular population is largely
The Muslim Brotherhood has claimed that election results are
reflective of the entire public, and that the parliament has the
right to draft the constitution. Brotherhood representatives have
also complained that the administrative court does not have authority
to make such a decision.
The court, however, rejected both claims, and abolished the current
composition of the constitutional committee, thus striking a blow to
the Muslim Brotherhood´s ambitions to hold a commanding majority.
Instead, the task of drafting a constitution will be passed to a
committee of “National representatives," a supreme committee
comprised of government officials as well as representatives of
The new drafting committee will be charged with determining the
authority and powers held by the president, to be elected in May, as
well as the power of the parliament.
Basically, the committee will determine the character of the state,
which could be an Islamic state under the auspices of the Muslim
Brotherhood, or, a civil state which preserves the right of the
minority and free speech, as described by the liberal groups that
pursued legal action.
The court´s decision makes the limits of Brotherhood political power
clear, and serves as proof of public opposition to Brotherhood
control of all political outlets.
The assumption that the dramatic victory in parliament elections
would allow the Brotherhood to form the new constitution and
determine the character of the state, has come under fire over the
last few days, and an intense, public political struggle over the
drafting of the constitution is expected to ensue.
Moreover, the decision will most likely postpone the drafting of the
constitution, despite the desire of the Supreme Military Council to
have a constitution in place before presidential elections.
If the elections are not postponed as well, the future president will
be chosen according to the current constitution, and will therefore
be able to influence drafting of the new constitution.
In opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood could return fire as well, if
it turns out that the new method for electing the constitutional
drafting committee will decrease their power – they could
theoretically boycott the committee altogether, thereby
Egypt media storms over Israeli officials´ support of presidential
A day after recent former Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said
Egyptian presidential hopeful Omar Suleiman was Israel´s preferred
candidate, the comment made headlines across Egypt.
On Monday, after Ben-Eliezer told Army Radio that “Omar Suleiman is
the best Egyptian presidential candidate in terms of Israel’s
interests,” the quote became a headline for almost all of Egypt’s
The comments made to Army Radio yesterday were widely referenced, and
used to highlight the opinion that Suleiman, who served as
Intelligence Minister under Hosni Mubarak, would be a direct
continuation of Mubarak’s rule, and will cater to Israel’s interests,
making him an unfit candidate for the presidency.
Since declaring his bid for the presidency, Suleiman has been the
target of criticism from both religious hardliners, as well as
secular liberals, opposing his candidacy because he was an integral
member of the previous regime.
An Egyptian parliament committee approved a law proposal on Tuesday,
prohibiting government officials from the former regime from any
political activity for a period of ten years. If the law passes, not
only Suleiman’s candidacy will be affected, but also Amr Moussa,
former Foreign Minister under Mubarak, will be disqualified from the
The proposed law is backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, the majority
party in parliament, and is meant to ensure the failure of candidates
that could defeat party candidate Khairat al-Shater, whose candidacy
has also run into trouble due to serving prison sentences in the past.
Suleiman is conceived as the Supreme Military Council, the body at
the center of public criticism. “Tossing a military candidate for
president into the public sphere is nothing more than a return to the
start,” wrote Halad Salah, editer of the Egyptian newspaper “Youm al
Sabbah.” Salah also wrote, “if Suleiman is not a military backed
candidate, the council should officially say so.” (© Copyright 2012
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