A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, June 7, 2012

With Gun to Heads, Egyptian Parties Cut a Deal on Constitution

Laboring through the night under a drop-dead deadline this afternoon, Egypt's political parties have agreed on a formula for representation on the new Constitutonal Assembly. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) had given a 48-hour ultimatum on Tuesday, saying that if the political players did not reach an agreement by this afternoon, SCAF itself would unilaterally issue an "amended Constitutional Declaration" and do so itself.

By most accounts, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi Al-Nour party were the sticking points as they wanted to assure for themselves the same dominance of the Constituent Assembly that they enjoy in Parliament; as recently as last night the parties were said to be still at loggerheads. Many analyses saw the SCAF deadline as a sign of a growing rift between the Brotherhood and SCAF

No official results have been announced, but Ahram Online reported that:
After hours of wrangling at the meeting that began Wednesday and ended at 4am Thursday, the parties agreed that 39 of the 100 seats on the constituent assembly would be given to political parties, of which the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) would hold 16; the Salafist Nour Party eight; the liberal Wafd Party five; the Free Egyptians Party two; the Egyptian Social Democratic Party two; and one each for the moderate-Islamist Wasat Party, the Nasserist Karama Party, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, the liberal Reform and Development Party and the Islamist Building and Development Party.
The Egypt Independent adds somewhat different details:
Wafd Party leader Al-Sayed al-Badawy, who has been presiding over the negotiations on the Constituent Assembly, announced the results of the meeting. 

The assembly has been split straight down the middle between Islamists and non-Islamists, signaling a victory for secular and liberal forces after the initial formation had a decidedly Islamist majority. The 50/50 split was reached after Jama’a al-Islamiya agreed to give up its two seats.

It was also agreed that in order to pass a proposed article for the new constitution, the article must be approved by a 67 percent vote. If the article does not garner the required percentage of votes, it would be reworded and then voted on again, with only 57 percent needed to pass it the second time.

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