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Promising accord.

Summary: THE overall reaction to the political understanding reached at Thursday's meeting between the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and representatives of political parties and some independent figures on the criteria for forming the Constituent Assembly (CA) that will write the nation's post-Revolution constitution points to a favourable attitude. And it was quite a propitious step for SCAF Chairman to call a joint meeting of the two houses of parliament (the People's Assembly and Shura Council), scheduled for today, to give the accord formal and concrete shape by selecting the 100 members of the CA.

By The Egyptian Gazette On the ground, the move means that the nation will, by the end of the day today, have in place the statutory and procedural regulations to institute the board or body that will undertake the landmark responsibility of drafting a new constitution.

Together with the drawing close of the run-off for the presidential election just four days after, the political stage now looks well set for a successful completion of the transition to democracy in line with the regulated and originally envisioned road map.

Representatives of some political parties opted however to withdraw from consultative meetings held the other day to draft preliminary and agreeable lists of nominees for CA membership, arguing that constitution-writing is probably the one political undertaking that should be singled out from the conventional wisdom of abiding by majority preferences.

In the context of vigorous democratic exchanges that characterise the on-going transitional stage, the expression of the full range of arguments and counter-arguments should be treated as an inseparable part of the political process. But for any observer, the noticeably broader trend has been one of approving or at least finding the Thursday conciliation encouraging.

At least three reasons stand to explain the favourable response to the Thursday accord. First, the divisions and disagreements on the criteria for drawing up the CA membership seemed unbridgeable at times. Second, the issue continued to defy settlement for more than two consecutive months and led, at one stage, to virtually blocking the hope for writing a new constitution before a president is elected so that the new head-of-state could be well aware of his competence, mandate and powers.

Third, by defining CA statutory voting procedures and percentages, the assignment will in all probability run smoothly and expeditiously.

For all these reasons combined, the Thursday understanding will continue to be appreciably remembered for having removed the last obstacle and most thorny issue over which the writing of a new constitution had been stymied. And it should not pass unnoticed that the accord was developed in the presence of representatives of as many as 22 political parties and independent parliamentarians - quite an indication that the move gained the broadest possible approval. Quite noticeable also is a common feeling that the CA would be all keen on accomplishing its task at earliest though no date has been formally fixed.

Over and above, with 39 seats reserved for political parties, 9 for authorities and experts on law, 6 for the judicial, 5 for al-Azhar, 4 for the church, 7 for professional unions, 6 for sectorial federations, the distribution of CA membership reflects balance and fairness, two of the most desirable and long-sought characteristics for a truly national board of constitution writers who represent the largest if not the entire political spectrum.

Copyright Eltahir House 2012

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Publication:The Egyptian Gazette (Cairo, Egypt)
Date:Jun 12, 2012
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