Egypt ruling allows time for constitution

Complaints filed by critics of the assembly writing Egypt’s new constitution were referred to a higher court on Tuesday, a move likely to give the body heavily influenced by Islamists enough time to complete its work before the judges can rule.

Report by Reuters

The step appeared to remove legal doubts overshadowing a process that will shape the post-Hosni Mubarak era. But the assembly still faces a struggle to build consensus around a text that is exposing fault lines in Egypt’s new political landscape.

“The case is finished. The challenge will now be a political one, not a legal one. If you don’t have a consensus you will have a big crisis,” said Hassan Nafaa, a professor of political science at the University of Cairo.

The new constitution is a major component of a transition from military-backed autocracy to a democratic system of government that Egyptians hoped would follow the popular uprising that swept Mubarak from power last year.

Yet its drafting has been marred by political bickering, including a tussle between Islamists and secular-minded Egyptians over the role Islam should play in the government of the Arab world’s most populous country.

The judge hearing 43 complaints against the way the assembly was formed sent the case to the Supreme Constitutional Court.

The plaintiffs, many of them motivated by alarm at the Islamists’ sway, had argued the 100-person assembly had been formed illegally.
Legal experts said it could take months — up to six by some estimates — for the constitutional court to examine the case.