Egypt panel to vote on divisive charter Thursday: member
CAIRO: A controversial panel boycotted by liberals and Christians will vote on a new Egyptian constitution Thursday, a member said, as critics accuse it of railroading the charter amid a standoff between government and the opposition.
The charter is at the centre of a power struggle involving President Mohamed Morsi, the opposition and the judiciary that has plunged the country into its worst political crisis since Morsi took office in June.
Essam al-Erian, a senior Muslim Brotherhood member and advisor to Morsi, said the panel should wrap up any outstanding issues “and begin voting today (Thursday)” on the charter.
The draft constitution will then be sent to Morsi, who may call a referendum to ratify the new constitution in two weeks.
A court had disbanded a previous constituent assembly and was due to rule on the validity of the current assembly on Dec 2.
Morsi however last week stripped courts of the power to disband the panel in a decree that also gave him broad powers that cannot be challenged by courts, sparking a judicial strike and mass rallies.
Liberals, leftists, and representatives of Egypt’s churches had already withdrawn from the panel tasked with preparing the constitution to replace the one suspended after president Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow in early 2011.
They had complained the assembly was undemocratic and rushed.
In his decree, Morsi allowed the assembly a further two months after its mid-December deadline to finish the charter, making the announcement on Wednesday that it would imminently approve the charter even more of a shock to the opposition.
Morsi and his supporters argue that delaying the constitution, which would be followed by parliamentary elections to replace the Islamist-dominated house dissolved by a court earlier this year, would delay democratic transition.
The sweeping powers Morsi granted himself last week will expire once a constitution is ratified in a referendum.