Presidential hopeful: Parliamentary majority will select constitutional assembly

Egyptian presidential hopeful Mohamed Selim al-Awa has stressed the parliamentary majority’s right to select members of the panel that will draft the country’s new constitution.

According to the Interim Constitution issued in March, Egypt’s newly elected parliament will select a 100-member panel to draft a new constitution.

In an interview with satellite TV channel Al-Arabiya late Tuesday, Awa said the new parliament should have the right to scrutinize the government’s work and withdraw its confidence in the cabinet. He also predicted that the next constitution will stipulate that the new parliament complete its term to its end.

The party that wins a majority of seats in Egypt’s lower house, the People’s Assembly, will select the constitutional panel, Awa said. He added that political forces have frequently assured that panel members will represent all parties.

Liberal and secular forces fear Islamist parties will dictate the constitution in light of their recent success in the ongoing People’s Assembly elections, which kicked off on 28 November.

But Awa said those fears are unjustified. He said if Islamic law is adopted, some aspects of it have to be applied gradually, while others should not be used before society reaches its “full development.”

Awa said he believes a combination of both the presidential and parliamentary systems is most appropriate for running Egypt’s affairs. He said such a system would guarantee that the parliament observes the president’s foreign policy, and that the president does the same for parliament's internal policies.

As for his presidential bid, Awa said he does not represent a single political group, but rather seeks the support of all social sects.

Awa voiced his objection to the installment of special provisions for Egypt’s military in the next constitution.

He said he finds nothing wrong in having ties with the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). Those relations evolved after the resignation of former President Hosni Mubarak, he said, adding that he has to remain in contact with the country’s rulers to inform them about public opinion.

Awa stressed that he had decried some of SCAF’s mistakes. He said he was the first to adopt a clear stance in demanding that SCAF name a date for transferring power.

Moving to the peace treaty signed between Egypt and Israel in 1979, Awa said Egypt should stick to the treaty as long as Israel exhibits commitment to the treaty’s stipulations. Islam mandates an obligation to deals as long as the other party shows commitment, Awa said.

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