Islamist power monopoly: Katatni to head Egypt constitution panel

Parliament, constitution panel, what else?

CAIRO - Members of a controversial panel tasked with drafting Egypt's new constitution on Wednesday elected Muslim Brotherhood member Saad al-Katatni -- currently the speaker of parliament-- to head the committee.
The appointment comes following a series of withdrawals from the constituent assembly by liberal, leftist and independent figures who accuse Islamists of monopolising the process that will deliver the post-revolution charter.
Writing the constitution requires "wisdom and political responsibility, away from partisan gains," Katatni told the constituent assembly tasked with drafting the new constitution, in a session aired live on television.
His election comes shortly after Egypt's Supreme Constitutional court announced it was withdrawing its representative, Ali Awad Saleh, from the panel, casting further doubt over its legitimacy.
Since the formation of the 100-member constituent assembly on Sunday, nearly two dozen high profile figures have pulled out, while a court is set to rule on the panel's validity on April 10 after several lawsuits.
The recent debate over the panel "has cast a heavy cloud of doubt and confusion over its members, and cast a dark shadow of (legal) challenges to (its) formation and procedure," the Supreme Constitutional Court's spokesman, Judge Maher Sami, told reporters.
He said the court had decided to steer clear of any disagreements or clashes caused by this doubt, prompting it to withdraw Saleh from the constituent assembly after he was elected a member.
Last week, the Islamist-dominated parliament voted for the panel to be made up of 50 lawmakers from the upper and lower houses of parliament, and 50 public figures.
But secular figures argued that such a high proportion of legislators gave Islamists -- who control nearly three quarters of parliament-- too much control of the constitution.
They also say that having 50 members of the panel outside parliament gives a false guarantee of balance, as voters are free to chose Islamists outside the legislative body.