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Egyptian Constitutional Committee Moves Ahead Amid Boycotts

Egypt’s constitution-drafting committee decided to push ahead with its work amid a boycott by many of its secular members who say Islamists are trying to monopolize the political process.

“We won’t delay the work of the committee,” Parliament Speaker Saad el-Katatni, the panel’s chief and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, said during the televised session last night on Nile News. El-Katatni said 11 members have confirmed their withdrawal and they have until early next week to decide on a proposal to replace them with members from a list of alternates. More than 20 people and groups have released statements saying they were pulling out from the 100-member committee.

The two Islamist parties with the most seats in parliament dominate the constitution assembly, a group of secular party leaders and prominent Egyptians said on April 3, while constitutions should be drafted by consensus. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party alliance won about half of the seats of parliament’s lower house followed by a more conservative bloc of Salafis.

Those boycotting the panel, including representatives of Al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world’s pre-eminent religious institution, and the Coptic Church, have rejected the suggestion that members be replaced. Secular parties have demanded that the committee is scrapped and that the process begin anew.

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