Committee of 50 gets off to rocky start

The 50-member committee appointed by the interim government to amend the 2012 Constitution found itself bogged down by arguments in Monday’s meeting, reported the privately owned newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm (AMAY).

The meeting was called to discuss the committee’s bylaws, but devolved into an argument as to whether the body would simply amend the constitution ratified under former President Mohamed Morsi, or draft a new one.

Committee head Amr Moussa had previously told the media that the committee is responsible for “writing a new constitution for the country,” a statement that “stirred controversy,” according to Journalists Syndicate chair Diaa Rashwan.

“The committee hasn’t made a decision whether to write a new constitution or to amend the old one,” Rashwan argued.

Lawyers Syndicate chair Sameh Ashour, on the other hand, objected to amending the 2012 Constitution.

“We are on a wrong track that collides with the demands of Egyptian people. People object to the 2012 Constitution and all that it represents, from sectarianism, obstruction of judicial authority and sidelining national fronts,” he asserted.

Ashour, who declared that he was in favor of writing a new constitution, added that the precise nature of the committee’s work should be announced, “so that we know our fate in it,” AMAY reported.

The committee agreed to appoint one of its members to head an information office, and this person would be the only member authorized to speak to the media.

Other points that were resolved in the meeting included that an article would have to receive 75 percent of the vote to pass, reported the privately owned newspaper Al-Dostour.

Certain bylaws were also agreed upon to organize the committee’s work. The committee head could issue an order allowing sessions to be held outside the Shura Council offices, for example, and a committee of selected experts could be invited to attend sessions and express their opinions. They would not have the right to vote, however.

The bylaws also stipulated that participation in the committee was a “voluntary national duty” and does not entitle members to financial rewards.


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