Advice for whom?

Islamist forces will not countenance any sharing of parliamentary power with the newly formed advisory council – Published on Al-Ahram weekly, by Amani Maged, 15 – 21 December, 2011.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces’ (SCAF) proposal to create an advisory council sparked the anger of many, not least Islamists, leading the Muslim Brotherhood to withdraw its representatives – Mohamed Mursi and Osama Yassin, the president and assistant secretary- general, respectively, of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) – from discussions … //  

… Elaborating on the functions of the council, El-Awwa said it is intended to serve as a bridge between public opinion and the Armed Forces.

“The council will assist SCAF on matters of concern to the public. It will air opinions and propose solutions to a host of problems, including sectarian strife.”

El-Awwa cautioned against the tendency to confuse criteria with procedures.

“Parliament will elect the members of the constitutional assembly. No one will be able to impose anything on the Egyptian people,” he stressed. As far as procedure was concerned, “members of the advisory council will draft a bill of law that will be brought into effect by SCAF edict before the two houses of parliament go into session”.

Wasat President Abul-Ela Madi adds that one of the council’s roles will be to offer its opinion on legislation that SCAF may issue. He has warned that he will resign from the council in the event that differences arise over the agreement already reached with SCAF. Madi has denied rumours that the council will play any role in the creation of the constitutional assembly by imposing quotas which would, he argues, be in breach of the constitutional declaration approved by popular referendum in March. “Neither the advisory council, nor the government, nor SCAF will have a voice in the selection of the members of the commission that will draw up the articles of the new constitution,” he insists.

Yasser Borhami, vice-president of the Salafist Calling, is not convinced. Not only has the council no role in selecting the constitutional assembly, Borhami objects to its very existence in its current form.

“Does it make sense,” he asks, “for this council to have only four representatives of the Islamist trends compared to 21 representatives of liberals and Christians? This demonstrates a clear bias in favour of secularist forces, in spite of the fact that the actual weight of each camp on the ground is obvious to anyone with eyes.”

“No one has the right to create new bodies with a mandate over the people’s elected representatives,” says Borhami, who views claims that the People’s Assembly will not represent the public as an attempt to impose a mandate on the Egyptian people.

“It is the Egyptian people who determine the relative weight of political forces. SCAF should turn its attention to ensuring the greatest possible degree of integrity in the elections instead of inventing authorities and powers for its advisory council.”

On Monday SCAF issued a statement assuring the public that newly elected MPs will have the right to form the committee entitled to write the constitution and that the advisory council’s role will be restricted to furnishing advice and opinions. (full text).

Comments are closed.