Arguments erupt at constitutional committee session

 

The 50-member constitution committee met on Monday to discuss the committee's bylaws. During the meeting, arguments broke out between committee head Amr Moussa and Lawyers and Journalists Syndicates chiefs Sameh Ashour and Diaa Rashwan.

The argument erupted during a discussion on the role of the committee and whether it will only amend the suspended 2012 constitution or draft a new constitution altogether.

During the procedural session, Rashwan said that Moussa and Mohamed Salmawy, the official spokesperson for the committee, gave statements in which they said the committee would write a new constitution for the country.

Rashwan added that the constitutional declaration issued by the interim president states that the committee propose [only] amendments to the 2012 constitution. He said that he fears the committee might find itself in trouble as a result of statements concerning a new constitution. "The committee will introduce constitutional amendments that will lead to the cancellation of some articles or their total amendment," he said.

Meanwhile, Moussa said that he had not meant to state that a new constitution would be drafted, pushing Ashour to ask to speak.

"We are moving in the wrong direction that opposes the general mood of the Egyptian streets that rejected the 2012 constitution," Ashour said. He added that the suspended constitution hampered the judiciary and alienated national powers.

"We cannot only introduce limited amendments to the constitution. Personally, I am for preparing a new constitution that suits the 30 June and 25 January revolutions, without sparking sectarianism or divisions. Tell us the nature of this committee's work in order for us to know what we're doing."

"We are not discussing the nature of what we're doing, but we are discussing the committee's bylaws and the nature of the makeup of its media office," replied Moussa, adding that the committee members are not discussing the possibility of writing a new constitution.

Rashwan said, "We have a constitutional declaration that calls for the formation of the 50-member committee on a decision from the president, and it is tasked with proposing amendments to the 2012 constitution. This includes any kind of amendments. But if one article remains unamended, it will not be included in the referendum on amended articles. We are not here to speak about the revolution; we are discussing legal matters." 

At this point, Moussa ended the session and gave the members a one-hour recess.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm