National Accord Conference ends, despite objections

The National Accord Conference concluded its fine session on Thursday despite objections from several participants to its ending nearly one month ahead of schedule.

The Armed Services Committee, for one, pulled out of the conference in protest at Deputy Prime Minister Yehia al-Gamal’s sudden decision to end the conference.

The committee members threatened not to deliver their recommendations, saying they needed more time to discuss certain topics. In a statement, the committee noted Gamal's explanation that the decision to wrap up the conference came after Parliament declined to host any further sessions.

On its website on Thursday, Al-Ahram reported that Gamal decided to terminate the conference after he discovered that the government and military junta would not consider his recommendations.

Al-Ahram quoted unnamed sources as saying that the government and the military also did not consider the recommendations made by the Electoral Systems Committee concerning laws governing parliamentary elections. The source went on to say that not only were the committee's recommendations ignored, but that opposing decisions were made, such as maintaining the quotas for workers and peasants in parliament, a law the conference had recommended be cancelled.

The conference sessions began on 21 May and were slated to continue for two months, at the end of which the recommendations would be made concerning the forthcoming constitution and the relationships between the various authorities due to run the country after the transitional period.

Meanwhile, the General Rights and Freedoms Committee released its recommendations on Thursday regarding the general contours of the new constitution, including the proposal that Shariah should be the main source of legislation and that Islam should be the official state religion.

The committee also endorsed a number of general rights, including the right to a decent standard of living and the establishment of a minimum and maximum wage. The committee emphasized the right to hold strikes and protests, free access to information, protection of personal information, and banning military personnel from taking part in politics.

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