MPs angry over criticism of Constituent Assembly formation discussions

Anger erupted among members of the People’s Assembly legislative committee following remarks made by the head of the Advisory Council, who criticized parliamentary discussions on the formation of the Constituent Assembly.

Osama Borhan, secretary general of the military-appointed council, considered the discussions as circumventing the State Council’s Administrative Court ruling that nullified the formation of the Islamist-dominated assembly because it did not represent all segments of society.

Earlier in April, People’s Assembly Speaker Saad al-Katatny had assigned the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee to mull the standards for choosing assembly members after the court ruling ordered it to be formed from outside Parliament.

Mahmoud al-Khodairy, an independent and head of the committee, said Borhan’s statements show he is unaware of the law, and that the court ruling itself constituted a legal mistake. He described it as a lifeline for everyone after criticism over the assembly’s makeup.

“What’s going on in the legislative committee is right. It’s the exact applying of Article 60 of the Constitutional Declaration, which was approved by the majority after a public referendum,” he said, adding that legal experts in the committee know more about the law and are the best ones to apply it.

Article 60 stipulates that Parliament should elect the 100 members of the Constituent Assembly. However, some political forces and activists reject the idea of Parliament writing the constitution, as well as the representation of MPs in the assembly.

Mohamed al-Omda, the committee’s deputy head, also commented on Borhan’s statements.

“I challenged the ruling and demanded it be canceled for violating the law. The court rejected a parliamentary decision claiming its ruling was administrative. The appeal will be reviewed on 7 May,” Omda said.

MP Mamdouh Ismail, a committee member, said Katatny approved the ruling from a political, not legal, perspective.

“Everyone inside Parliament agrees that the assembly formation should be achieved through election of 100 members from the People’s Assembly and Shura Council, which happens in 50 percent of the world’s parliaments. Whoever rejects [this] should go back to other countries’ constitutions and find out that they are formed by members of parliament,” Ismail added.

The committee members said they reject a document drawn up between the ruling military council and political forces during their meeting Saturday, which addresses how the assembly will be composed and the method of voting on articles of the constitution.

According to the state-run news agency MENA, the members said that the meeting violated Article 60.

However, the committee members were divided between the options of suspending or resuming parliamentary hearings on the Constituent Assembly, which are designed to allow all segments of society offer their opinions on its formation.

MP Mohamed Khalifa described the military-political forces meeting as a terrible insult and said what has been agreed on will not be binding for Parliament.

Khodairy rejected the idea of attacking the military council, saying that “political forces are the ones responsible for what’s happening.” He called on the council to send the document to the legislative committee, so that it can be included in proposals the committee makes after parliamentary hearings conclude.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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