The constitution drafting process has reached its final stage as the Constituent Assembly was set to meet Sunday night for final discussion of the proposed draft.
The meeting is the first in a series of wrap-up meetings designed to help the assembly reach its 19 November deadline.
The drafting committee completed the 5 November draft, set to be the final draft, and the assembly is set to discuss one section daily over the next week as per the time plan put forth by the assembly’s general secretariat.
About a third of the assembly, 33 members led by former Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, announced their rejection of this time plan, saying that it did not provide enough time to properly discuss, debate and amend the draft.
After the final draft is completed by 19 November, assembly members will vote on it article by article. A 67 per cent majority is required to pass an article and if one is not reached then a 57 per cent majority is required in a second vote.
The assembly will then to present the approved draft to President Mohamed Morsy who will put it to a nationwide referendum for ratification.
Members of the assembly’s Islamist majority are trying to complete the process in as little time as possible in order to meet the deadline, while liberal members such as assembly spokesperson Wahid Abdel Meguid say the deadline is a guideline and there are no legal consequences for missing it.
The bloc led by Moussa argues that nine days is not enough time to finalise the constitution, especially with many articles subject to heated debate. They are asking for the modification of the time plan to allow for more time to seek consensus.
The freedoms’ committee of the lawyers union held a press conference on Sunday demanding the assembly include their profession in the constitution as part of the judicial authority.
The committee also called on the assembly to include the right of citizens to have defence lawyers accompany them from the moment they are arrested, through the judicial process until trial.
They also called for the grand imam and mufti of Al-Azhar to be elected and not appointed.
Committee coordinator Tarek Ibrahim said a delegation from the committee would meet assembly Chairman Hossam El-Gheriany and present these suggestions to him on Sunday.
Gama’a Islamiyaa spokesperson Tarek Al-Zumur presented the assembly on Sunday with a memo detailing the demands of the Coalition to Support Shari’a, calling for the implementation of Shari’a in the new constitution and its enshrinement as the principle source of all legislation.
The coalition composed of 17 Salafi parties and groups staged a large protest on Friday calling for the implementation of Shari’a. Al-Zumur’s memo consisted mainly of that demonstration’s demands.
The coalition is calling for constitutional articles to have an added phrase explicitly stating the adherence of whatever the article’s content is to Shari’a law.