Katatny: Military will not have exceptional status in new constitution

Saad al-Katatny, People’s Assembly speaker and head of the constituent assembly, said on Wednesday that the new constitution will not grant the military exceptional status nor authorities that put it above the law, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.

Katatny added in remarks to reporters following the constituent assembly’s first meeting, that the armed forces will have a special status that ensures its professionalism and non-interference in political matters.

“I don’t believe the army and its leadership want to have a privileged position in the new constitution; it will have a special but not an exceptional status,” he said.

The armed forces' constitutional powers have been a contentious issue since President Hosni Mubarak stepped down and handed power to the military last year. Politicians say the armed forces should be subjected to parliamentary oversight, but the ruling generals reject the interference of civilian leaders in military affairs, citing national security concerns as a justification for internal secrecy.

Last November, people from across the political spectrum, including Muslim Brotherhood members, Salafis and secularists, rallied in Tahrir Square to demand the withdrawal of the supra-constitutional principles proposed by then-Deputy Prime Minister Ali al-Selmy, which would shield the army from public scrutiny or parliamentary oversight.

Katatny went on to say that proposals of the shadow constituent assembly that a number of political movements and parties are planning to form will be welcomed by Parliament.

“There is no crisis within the constituent assembly, and Parliament had anticipated that some of those chosen for the assembly would have special circumstances that would prevent them from participating,” said Katatny. “Therefore, 20 back-up members from within and 20 from outside Parliament were elected.”

Katatny added that members who withdraw from the constituent assembly cannot choose their successors.

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