A big surprise: Gamal Sultan uncovers the secret behind the withdrawal by the Church and some members from the Constitutional Assembly
Gamal Sultan: the Constitutional Assembly as an auction for blackmail
The Constitutional Assembly has been transformed into a big market for political, economic and sectarian one-upmanship. Anyone who wants to push through an economic, sectarian or political interest plays the game, “you leave it and I’ll leave it”.
I don’t know of any logical reason for the announcement by Coptic Orthodox Church officials yesterday that they are thinking of withdrawing from the Constitutional Assembly because they have discovered – six months in – that it is unbalanced and doesn’t represent all factions of the population. Pope Tawadros said a week ago that the Church “will not play politics” and it seems that he considers the constitution a “card game”. In short, the Church wanted to take illegal possession 10,000 feddan of natural protectorate land and ancient antiquities in Fayoum in addition to an attempt to seize thousands of feddans – suddenly and in a premeditated manner – in other areas. This scared state bodies after there was widespread grumbling by many popular and nationalist currents, and walls were demolished, attacks stopped and the land was restored to the state.
Three days later the Church hinted that it would withdraw from the Constituent Assembly without a single logical reason or objection to a single article, because it had previously agreed to all that. In the same context, a “big lawyer” who is a former minister tried to whip up artificial controversy about his withdrawal from the Constituent Assembly. He said that he had “discovered” that it is unbalanced and that the Assembly head runs things according to his whims.
On another occasion, this “intellectual” – who could be described as a mercenary – discovered, six months later, that the head of the Assembly wasn’t running it correctly. He discovered this truth a week after the Presidency refused to agree to his offer of settling the “crime” of the company, an Egyptian-“Gulf” company, to which he is a legal consultant. Settling would mean that the state loses LE 45 billion. When the Presidency refused this he intimated that he would be withdrawing from the Assembly. This lawyer/intellectual is the godfather of most public sector selloff deals, deals that lost Egypt more than LE 120 billion. If Egypt had revolutionary trials after the January revolution this man’s head would have been the first of ten to be hung up in Tahrir Square.
In the same context, a former presidential candidate and Assembly member revealed that the Assembly had deviated from its course and that he had suspended his activities in it and would end his connection with the Assembly the following week without providing any clear reason that could be discussed. He discovered this truth after negotiations on the quota and which will be left to his “new” party in the next parliament.
There are other secular figures who have threatened to withdraw, and haven’t. They are connected or rather stuck to a number of whales from the Mubarak era who are currently suffering wide-ranging institutional movement to reclaim the land they falsely seized and squandered amounts sufficient to settle Egypt’s debts. The committees – formed of more than one ministry and government body – are now earnestly working in several areas, and in particular on desert roads and areas close to urban buildup. Every time arguments intensify we hear about threats to withdraw from the Assembly or the tone of attacks on satellite channels – a number of which are owned by these people – intensifies.
Take for example the blackmail of politicians who lost the presidential race and who think that they had it in the bag or that it is beneath them. Some of them still behave as if they are president and are trying all possible ways of completely destroying the Assembly no matter what amendments are made. They do not want the constitution to be completed in the first place so that the message is sent that Islamists are stalling the country and have failed.
Some of the objections are nauseating, such as the protest against provisions that enable civil society activity on the pretext that they open the door to religious vice squads – despite the fact that those opposing are the ones who called for civil society to be strengthened. Some of the objections are completely meaningless, whether because they are motivated by attempts by some to preserve the “path back” amidst a hubbub of blackmail and intimidation. It is for this reason that these objections are extremely contradictory, and are reminiscent of the situation of actor Adel Imam in the “Cold Drink” play when the court responded to his demand and he replied, “cold?” and they said, “yes”, and he replied, “but I wanted something hot!”