Constituent assembly prepares for first meeting

The 50-member constituent assembly, tasked with drafting amendments to the now suspended 2012 constitution, is scheduled to hold its first session at the Shura Council building on Sunday.

Several members of the constituent assembly visited the Shura Council, where assembly meetings will be held on Saturday to fill in their membership forms, reported state-run news agency MENA.

Armed forces representative General Maher Manna’ told reporters that all constitutional articles related to the armed forces will be studied and decided upon through the discussions held at the assembly, reported state-run Al-Ahram.

Hagag Adol, novelist and Nubian representative within the assembly, said he would demand drafting articles which insure cultural diversity and make the Nubian language the second official language in Egypt, reported Al-Ahram. Adol added that he would strive to criminalise mocking cultural diversities and hate speech.

Gebaly El-Maraghy, representative for Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF), said the federation is holding onto the 50-percent representation of labourers and farmers in the House of Representatives. He added that Minister of Manpower and Immigration Kamal Abu Eita promised him he would fight for this right.

El-Maraghy was removed from his position as ETUF head on Thursday after the federation’s administration voted on replacing him with Abdel Fatah Ibrahim.

Antonios Aziz, representative for the Catholic Church, said his first priority within the constituent assembly would be to issue articles which protect women and children’s rights, as well as the rights to education and to social justice, reported Al-Ahram.

A group of civil society organisations released on Saturday a joint statement calling upon the constituent assembly to review all articles which concern women and children and make sure they strive to end violence and discrimination against women and comply with international treaties ratified by Egypt. The organisations called for drafting a separate article to criminalise female genital mutilation (FGM).

“FGM poses as a great threat to girls’ lives,” the statement read. The organisations added that FGM led to several deaths, describing it as an “outrageous attack on women’s dignity and their physical and psychological health”.

The statement was signed by the Coalition of Civil Societies Combating FGM, the Egyptian Feminist Union, the United Nations Population Fund and the National Population Council.

Al-Nour Party, whose deputy chairman Bassam Zarqa was appointed as a representative for Islamist political movements within the assembly, is yet to decide on participating in the assembly’s activities. The Party’s high board held a meeting on Saturday to make the decision, amid displeasure with the low percentage of representation of Islamists within the assembly.

Apart from Zarqa, Press Syndicate head Diaa Rashwan, and Supreme Culture Council representative Sayed Hegab, all other 47 members have submitted their membership applications, Al-Ahram reported.

The constituent assembly is expected to appoint a chairman and at least one deputy chairman during Sunday’s session.

Presidency spokesman Ehab Badawy announced last Sunday the names of the members of the constituent assembly. Badawy said that the assembly should finish its work in 60 days after their first meeting.

 

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