Constituent Assembly opponents to draft alternative constitution

Representatives from civil society organizations, activists and politicians announced on Wednesday the establishment of a popular front to reject the constitution being drafted by the Constituent Assembly.

The group held a press conference on Wednesday, during which it explained that it would hold public meetings in Cairo and all governorates across Egypt to draft an alternative constitution.

The front’s members said that they will not recognize the constitution if it is completed by the Constituent Assembly and put up for a referendum. They called on Islamist figures to respond to demands to remake the current assembly without resorting to a legal and constitutional maze that would further exacerbate confusion. Continuing to draft a constitution without societal consensus will bring on a new wave of anger, they warned.

Hafez Abu Seada, head of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, said that the front would use the headquarters of the organization for its activities.

“This group is the fruit of cooperation and coordination between a number of civil and political forces, including the Popular Current and the Constitution, Wafd, Democratic Front, and Labor parties,” he said.

“The aim of the front is to besiege the Constituent Assembly so that it will be dissolved and reformed,” he added, stressing that, “the foundations upon which the assembly was formed are unacceptable.”

Human rights activist Negad al-Baradei said that nearly 20 members of the Constituent Assembly have been appointed to various state positions after they were elected to the assembly, including assembly head Hossam al-Gheriany, who was appointed to the National Council for Human Rights; Mohamed Mahsoub Abdel Meguid, who was named parliamentary affairs minister; and Farouq Gwaida, who is now a member of the presidential advisory team.

ElBaradei argued that these members should have resigned from the assembly when they were granted positions within the executive branch of the government.

He called on secularists and civil society representatives who remain on the assembly to resign, stressing that they are contributing to the disintegration of the civil front. ElBaradei warned that there participation legitimizes the assembly.

Hussein Abdel Ghani, the Popular Current’s representative on the front, said, “The civil and human rights movements will not allow a constitution that defeats what’s left of the 25 January revolution.”

“A constitution containing the phrase ‘not to be contrary to Sharia’ and a constitution that limits the rights of certain groups, such as Copts and women, will not be allowed,” he added.

Abdel Ghani warned that the front “will continue to escalate against the Assembly, and is ready to go to war against it and the distorted constitution it will draft.”

He noted that the war against the Assembly will be democratic, as “the front will cooperate with a number of professors of constitutional law to draft alternative articles to those proposed by the Constituent Assembly.”

The front is not a parallel constituent assembly, Abdel Ghani explained, but will be a popular constituent assembly for drafting a constitution with consensus from all sectors of society.

The front includes Constitution Party Vice President Ahmed al-Borai, Journalists Syndicate Secretary Gamal Fahmi, Tagammu Party Secretary General Hussein Abdel Razek, Wafd Party supreme body member Essam Shiha, and former MP Amr Hamzawy, as well as human rights activists Nehad Abu Qomsan, Bahaa el-din Hassan, Mohamed Zarea and Nasser Amin.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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