Protesting assembly members go back to work

Constituent Assembly members returned to work Wednesday, despite the continued detention of protesters. On Tuesday night, members had announced that they would suspend their participation until demonstrators arrested outside the Shura Council were released.

Ten of the 50 members of the draft constitution committee had said they would not resume their work until all protesters were released. On Wednesday, however, they returned to work. Twenty-four people who were arrested Tuesday are being held on a four-day detention order.

The committee resumed its closed sessions on Wednesday, according to state news portal Egypt News. Wednesday’s session saw the committee discuss the cancellation of the Shura Council.

Mohamed al-Salmawy, committee spokesperson, said in a Tuesday press conference that the call for a referendum on the new constitution will be made before the end of December.

Salmawy said that the committee will finish the draft constitution on December 3 and, according to the constitutional declaration, a referendum must be held within 30 days.

According to the privately owned Shorouk newspaper, the committee decided in its Tuesday session against including measures to ensure positive discrimination in support of minority groups. As a result, the quota for women in parliamentary elections will be canceled.

Diaa Rashwan, head of the Journalists Syndicate and a committee member, told the privately owned daily Al-Masry Al-Youm, also on Wednesday, that the committee had decided to remove the article stating that the president can exercise his powers through the prime minister and the cabinet, giving the president his full jurisdiction back.

Salmawy said that the committee had finished drafting all of the constitution’s articles and is currently writing the constitution’s preamble. Debate continues within the committee to decide whether or not to mention the Sharia in the preamble.

The Middle East News Agency reported Wednesday that Al-Azhar representatives insist on clarifying the principles of Sharia in the preamble, while church representatives have rejected the inclusion and threatened to withdraw from the committee if Sharia appears in preamble.

The leader of the Nour Party, Younis Makhyoun, criticized the committee on his official Facebook page Wednesday, saying that the committee only represents the elite and is disconnected from reality. He warned that the committee’s actions could cause “the failure” of the transitional period. The Nour Party has one representative on the committee.

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