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Egypts constitutional crisis & revolutionaries back to Tahrir square

Wed 6 Jun 2012 Egypts constitutional crisis & revolutionaries back to Tahrir square

On 5 June Egypt’s ruling military council gave political parties a two-day ultimatum to issue a parliamentary decision on the membership for the country’s constituent assembly – tasked with drafting a new constitution – or else it would issue a ‘constitutional annex’ or revive the 1971 constitution. The meeting with the military council was attended by representatives of a number of parties, but it was boycotted by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) over a dispute concerning the actual power of the parliament in electing the members of the constituent assembly.

The members of the constituent assembly should include heads of parties represented in parliament, heads of judiciary bodies, elected heads of professional syndicates and civil society representatives, in order to ensure the assembly is not dominated by a single political current. Twenty public figures representing women, youth and Copts should also be included. However, it is still unclear who would decide on who enters the assembly. The Muslim Brotherhood is the largest party in parliament and believes that the members of the constituent assembly should be directly elected by MPs, which would give their party a lot of influence. Other parties will negotiate with the Brotherhood on amending the bill on the selection of the members, as the army has given the parties a two-day ultimatum to settle the issue.

Back to Tahrir square

In addition, thousands descended on Cairo’s Tahrir square for the fourth night in a row to demand Ahmed Shafik's removal from the presidential race; the presidential candidate is widely seen as a representative of Hosni Mubarak's deposed regime. Crowds marched to the square from several locations in the capital, led by two defeated candidates from the first round of the presidential ballot. Protesters have demanded that Shafik, a former military man who was Mubarak's final prime minister, withdraw from the runoff election scheduled to begin on June 16. Many are also angry with the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi, the other contender in the runoff. For the Egyptians that are in favour of the revolution the current choice is a nightmare scenario: as their votes were divided over three candidates they lost their majority and now face a choice between what they consider as ‘two evils’.

Meanwhile, upon arriving in Egypt from Vienna late Tuesday, former presidential hopeful and opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei told reporters at the airport that the real battle was “writing Egypt’s new constitution and cancelling the presidential elections, because the legitimacy of one of the candidates is highly doubtful,” referring to presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq. Shafiq gained a lot of votes, especially in the smaller villages, where people trust that he would bring back stability; they were willing to overlook his ties to the old regime. Shafiq even did well in regions that supported the Brotherhood during the parliamentary elections: “Shafiq will rebuild the previous regime, yes, but the Muslim Brotherhood infiltrated everything,” explains a Shafiq supporter “If the Muslim Brotherhood rule, we won't be able to get rid of them. It will take another 60 years.” Others believe in the Brotherhood’s renaissance project, which is their theme in the elections, and feel that warnings of a Brotherhood takeover are overblown. The disappointed pro-revolution camp is reconsidering their options; they could either boycott the elections and protest or pressure one of the presidential candidates to adopt one of their candidates as vice-president and have half of the ministers be from the pro-revolution camp.

Sources: AlJazeera, AlArabiya, EUobserver
Picture: pro-revolution presidential candidates Sabbahi and Fatouh at anti-Shafiq rally: Gigi Ibrahim

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