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Egypt’s Military, Political Groups Negotiate on Constitution

Egypt’s military rulers met with political groups in a bid to secure the framework for a committee that will draft the new constitution, ahead of next week’s presidential runoff.

Earlier today, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party signed off on a proposal for the committee’s composition, the FJP’s spokesman Ahmed Sabei told the official Middle East News Agency. He said other groups had walked out of the talks -- a claim that was denied by the parties said to have withdrawn from the meeting.

Egypt heads toward the final round of presidential elections starting June 16 with no constitution in place and the powers of the incoming president yet to be determined. The Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohamed Mursi, and Ahmed Shafik, the last prime minister to serve under ousted President Hosni Mubarak, are due to face each other in the runoff.

Sabei said the Free Egyptians Party, the Tagammu Party and the Social Democrats pulled out of today’s meeting, though the differences would likely be addressed later, MENA reported.

By contrast, the three parties said in an emailed statement that the meeting ended in failure over the Muslim Brotherhood’s insistence on rejecting the notion that any one group should hold a majority that “allows it to impose its will” on others, the statement said. The Brotherhood’s FJP hold the single largest bloc in parliament.

The ruling military council warned the groups on June 5 that it would act unilaterally if they didn’t reach an agreement within 48 hours. The parties had been wrestling with the committee’s composition since a court shot down an earlier version. Smaller groups have accused the FJP and other Islamists of seeking to dominate the body.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tarek El-Tablawy in Cairo at teltabalwy@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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