CAIRO — Egypt’s Islamists looked poised Saturday to gain control of a key lever of power that will help steer the country’s political future as parliament selected a panel to draw up the country’s new constitution. Liberal lawmakers denounced the process as a “farce” and walked out in protest.
The constitution, which will be written by the 100-member committee, will determine the balance of power between Egypt’s previously all-powerful president and parliament, and define the country’s future identity, including the role of religion and minority rights. With so much at stake, the question of who should sit on the panel has sparked fierce debate in Egypt.
Many secular and liberal Egyptians fear that the Islamist parties that dominate parliament will pack the panel with their supporters and ignore minority concerns. Those fears have spiked over the past week after parliament decided to allocate half of the panel’s seats to its own members, and following comments from a leading Islamist deputy who said the country’s most prominent democracy advocate, Mohamed ElBaradei, would likely not be included.