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Egypt: Constitutional Court Objects to Its Status in New Draft Constitution

(Nov. 1, 2012) The assembly in charge of drafting a new constitution for Egypt released a preliminary draft, available in Arabic, on its website (last visited Oct. 25, 2012). On October 16, 2012, the Supreme Constitutional Court announced officially that it does not accept the status assigned to it in the Constitutional Assembly’s draft. (“The Constitutional Court” Objects to Its Status in the New Constitution and Considers It a “Step Backward,” ASHARQ ALAWSAT (Oct. 17, 2012); Supreme Constitutional Court Rejects the Draft of the New Egyptian Constitution, AL ARABIYA (Oct. 16, 2012).)

The President of the Constitutional Court, Maher Beheiri, held a press conference to announce his refusal to accept the status assigned to the Court in the new draft constitution. He stated, “[t]his is a move backward and a stark violation of the Court’s authority and a diminution of its competencies.” (“The Constitutional Court” Objects to Its Status in the New Constitution and Considers It a “Step Backward,” supra.) He added that this would allow other powers to interfere with the Court and would dilute the accomplishments it had made. He also declared that the Court would remain in session until the proposed provisions have been amended. Beheiri expressed astonishment that the relevant provisions became contrary to what the Court had proposed be included and would strip the Court of its full independence. (Id.)

The Vice-President of the Court, Maher Sami, said that it was clear from the first day the Constitutional Assembly started its work that some within and outside it were seeking to settle old scores and take revenge against the Court. (Id.)

The Constitutional Assembly itself is the subject of 43 lawsuits filed with the Administrative Court, requesting that the constitution-drafting body be dissolved. While the Administrative Court is in the process of deliberating on those cases, representatives of the Salafist Nour Party rejected the draft constitution, accusing the ruling Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliate party, Freedom and Justice, of manipulating some of the provisions that have been agreed upon by the committees of the Assembly over the past months. (Id.)