Egyptian Constitutional Assembly Suspended

Egypt's Constitutional Assembly was slapped with an injunction following charges Islamist parties stacked the deck in their favor

Gabe Kahn ,

Egyptians Protest Constitutional Assembly
Egyptians Protest Constitutional Assembly

An Egyptian court on Tuesday suspended an Islamist-dominated panel tasked with rewriting the country's constitution.

The ruling followed complaints from lawyers and liberal political parties who say the Islamist majority in the new parliament abused its powers by allocating a majority of the panel's seats to themselves.

Many liberal party members withdrew from the 100-member panel in recent weeks to protest Islamist attempts to dominate the constitutional process.

Forging a new constitution is a crucial step in Egypt's attempts to form a new government.

A key goal of Egypt's new charter is to define the balance of power between the Islamist-dominated parliament and the powerful post of president, held by Hosni Mubarak until his ouster in February 2011.

The vacuum left by Mubrak was filled by an interim junta headed by Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi, who has been exercising executive power since the February 2011 revolution.

The role of the omnipresent and influential military in Egypt's political system is another issue expected to be addressed by the new constitution.

The ruling ordering the constitutional panel's suspension came on the heels of former Mubarak-era Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman announcing he would vie for the presidency in May.

Suleiman, considered a pragmatist who would preserve the regional status quo – including the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty – is widely seen as a palatable secular and pro-Western alternative to Islamist contenders for the role.