Egyptian Court Suspends Constituent Assembly for Lack of Inclusion
An Egyptian court on Tuesday decided to suspend the 100-member constituent assembly selected by the lawmakers from the Islamist-dominated parliament and tasked with the drafting of a new constitution. The move is considered a blow to the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, which has won the majority of the seats in the parliament resulted after the first free elections since the ouster of former regime of Hosni Mubarak.
The ruling of the court comes as political groups, secular politicians and constitutional experts have complained about the decision to offer lawmakers half of the seats in the assembly, which allowed the Islamist and other groups that are closed to them to have 60 percent of the seats on the constitutional panel.
The constitutional panel was also referred to a panel of senior judges who are expected to rule on its legality, since critics have maintained that it went against the constitutional declaration adopted by a referendum last year.
Liberal and secularist, as well as Christian Copts representatives, have left the panel, accusing it of not being inclusive enough. They all feared that if the composition of this panel gets to draft the constitution, it would reflect to a large extent the Islamist mentality of those who draft it.
Accusations that the Islamist want to create an Islamist constitution were made also in regard to the insistence that lawmakers get half the seats in the panel. The control of the panel that is expected to offer the country a new constitution is said to have been one action the Islamist have taken in their bid to consolidate their grip on power after the elections, in which they emerged victorious.
Another unexpected move was to appoint as a candidate to the presidency for the elections that are scheduled for the last days of May the deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, successful businessman Khairat el-Shater, who is expected to have as a political program the tightening of the Islamic rule on the country by offering sharia a more significant place in the judicial system of the country.
El-Shater promised to uphold sharia, and the Islamic society, though he remained committed to the idea of democracy and to creating a business-friendly environment in post-Mubarak Egypt.
The move took by surprise all the political parties in the landscape and prompted critics to say that the Brotherhood wanted to monopolize power in the country. It was not clear whether the military would support el-Shater’s bid for presidency, considering that the military council which is handling power in the transitional era has its own agenda, referring to the preservation of the privileges the military has always enjoyed in the Egyptian society and to escaping prosecution by justice for actions that were carried out by the military after the fall of Mubarak’s regime, when the authorities had to crack down on protests in the Tahrir Square, especially in November, when there was fear that the revolution started in January would be continued.
The military position became clearer this week, when former chief of intelligence and vice president of Egypt, Omar Suleiman, announced his own candidacy to the presidential office, a bid which is said by the experts to please the military, which see Suleiman as one of them, and the people in the country that already miss the days of Mubarak, when the social order was tighten up, and the equality of chances in life was not as unbalanced as it proves to become for many people since economy had to submit to the rules of free market.
While el-Shater is feared by many for the potential danger of Islamism he represents and Suleiman could remind many of the dictatorial days of Mubarak, Amr Moussa, an iconic diplomat and former leader of the Arab League, seems to lead in the preferences of Egyptian, which means that the constituents in this northern African country may be inclined to vote in favor of a Western-like way of life than of a Islamist-dominated or dictatorial one.
The great absent in this presidential race is Mohammed elBaradei, former head of International Atomic Energy Agency, seen by analysts back in 2010 as the most likely candidate to defeat the Mubarak family at a time when the Arab Spring was not even a dream for Egyptians.
ElBaradei is said to have been taken serious even by the former intelligence of the regime, which was promoting the image of the presidential son Gamal as the heir apparent. ElBaradei complained that his family was submitted to a smear campaign as a daughter of his was exposed on the internet in a position that was suggesting drinking alcohol, which in Muslim mentality is political suicide.
He continued to be loved and appreciated by the Egyptians even after the revolution in January and February, when he came to Egypt to be among his people, but on January 14, 2012, he made the announcement of not wishing to run for president, as a protest against the autocratic regime that continued, in his opinion, the same governing line of the former regime.
In January, ElBaradei said that the regime has not fallen yet and that his conscience would not allow him to run for president in a country where there was not a democratic regime. As the former nuclear watchdog promised to remain committed to change in the Egyptian democracy from outside the political system, his support is supposed to be thrown behind the candidacy of Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouch, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, considered a moderate Islamist.
In November, before the elections, during the sit-ins in the Tahrir Square, the people were demanding that elections be postponed until after the new constitution were drafted, so that the dominance of the Islamist movement, which was being seen by then as the leader of the polls, be kept away from influencing the spirit of the new bill of rights.11