Advisory council forms panel to discuss constituent assembly

The advisory council for Egypt's military rulers formed a panel to facilitate dialogue about the country's new constitution, the council said Monday.

The panel will hold discussions with various political forces on criteria for members of the constituent assembly, who parliament will select to draft Egypt's new constitution, council member Osama Borhan told Al-Masry Al-Youm.

Borhan said dialogue is, for the time being, the best way to overcome the obstacles that political forces face.

An advisory council source who asked not to be named said the new panel will include Mansour Hassan, the council's chairman; Ahmed Kamal Abul Maged, an Islamic and legal scholar; Sameh Ashour, head of the Lawyers Syndicate and vice chairman of the advisory council; and Hassan Nafaa, a professor of political science who is expected to chair the panel.

The council’s secretary-general, Mohamed Nour Farahat, said the panel will be responsible for holding discussions with political forces without predetermining the subject of the talks.

Farahat, in an interview with Al-Masry Al-Youm, described the formation of the new panel as an earnest attempt to reach national consensus over present issues.

Farahat's deputy, Abdallah al-Moghazy, said the panel will engage in dialogue with all political powers, including the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party.

He stressed that the council respects the Interim Constitution, which empowers the new parliament to form the constituent assembly.

The constitution, issued last March by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), stipulates that the elected parliament will appoint a 100-member assembly to draft the new constitution after parliamentary elections end in March.

In December, SCAF member Mokhtar al-Mulla told reporters that the advisory council will set the standards for the selection of the assembly members.

This announcement enraged Islamist parties, which lead the polls in the current People's Assembly elections. SCAF later denied Mulla’s statement.

Later, council head Mansour Hassan said parliament will be exclusively responsible for forming the constituent assembly.

Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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