Islamists to draft Egypt’s new constitution

The Islamists have won a clear majority on the panel to draw up the country’s new constitution after the liberal bloc staged a walk-out from the vote on Saturday, calling it a “farce.”

Islamists hold a majority among both parliamentary and civil panel members. Thirty-nine of the 50 lawmakers chosen for the 100-member constituent assembly are Islamists, AFP reports.

The liberal Egyptian bloc, which consists of three parties, denounced the vote.

"All our MPs withdrew," said Naguib Sawiris, founder of the liberal Free Egyptians Party, “It's ridiculous: a constitution being written by one force and one force alone. We tried our best but there was no use.”

There are women and Christians on the panel, but they have poor representation in the assembly. Of a total of six women on the panel, three come from the parliament and senate and the rest from civil society.

The National Association for Change, headed by Mohamed ElBaradei, is said to be pressing a court to annul the vote that elected the panel.

The first assembly meeting is to take place on Wednesday. The panel has six months to draft a new constitution, which is then to be put to the vote in a national referendum.

The new constitution will replace the one of 1971, which was abolished when former President Hosni Mubarak was ousted last year. One of the crucial issues to be defined by the document is the balance of power between the president and the parliament of the country.