Rights organization launches campaign to include basic freedoms in constitution

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights launched on Wednesday a campaign dubbed "The Independent Committee for Drafting Egypt's Coming Constitution" that aims to push for the inclusion of basic freedoms and rights in the new constitution, organization head Hafez Abu Saeda said on Thursday.

In a statement to Al-Masry Al-Youm, Abu Saeda called on ordinary people as well as political forces to participate in an independent committee to draft a constitution that can garner widespread support and ensure protection of human rights principles that are acknowledged domestically and internationally.

Saeda said that the Freedom and Justice and Nour Parties’ domination of the constituent assembly is a usurpation of power and an assault on the rights of Egyptians.

The formation of the constituent assembly was invalid because the formation of the constitution-drafting committee should not be a parliamentary matter, Saeda said.

He added that the assembly does not represent the Egyptian people, and claimed that the FJP and Nour Party hold 70 percent of the seats, contrary to statements from the parties claiming that they hold lower numbers. The imbalance of the assembly demonstrates that Islamist parties want to monopolize writing the constitution, he noted.

Saeda made his statements before the outcome of a meeting between a number of political forces and Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and Lieutenant General Sami Anan, the military council’s head and deputy head, was announced.

Following the meeting, the FJP that it decided to withdraw 10 of its members from the constituent assembly and replace them with liberal appointees after protest from political parties, religious institutions and other groups over the assembly.

Gaber Gad Nassar, professor of constitutional law at Cairo University, said in a statement to Egyptian state television on Thursday evening that the FJP’s concession does not get at the root of the problem. Like Saeda, Nassar argued that Parliament’s choosing the constituent assembly was invalid from the beginning. He criticized the article in the Constitutional Declaration that tasks Parliament with forming the constituent assembly.

Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm  

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