The three-month-long standoff between Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) reached a crescendo on Tuesday. The SCAF threatened that, unless agreement could be reached among political forces – including the FJP – on the formation of a constituent assembly, tasked with drafting a new constitution, by 2pm Thursday, the SCAF would move to do it unilaterally.
On Tuesday, a six-hour meeting between the SCAF and representatives of 19 political forces wrapped up with a unanimous agreement that formation of the constituent assembly could not wait any longer. A committee, including representatives of the Nour, Wafd and Free Egyptians parties, was put in charge of contacting the FJP and the Islamist Al-Wasat Party, both of which boycotted Tuesday's meeting.
"Thursday's meeting will be decisive and [SCAF head] Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi's message was clear to all: unless a 100-member constitution-drafting assembly is in place by Thursday at 2PM, the military council itself will form it," said independent MP Mostafa Bakri.
Most observers expect that, if agreement is not reached, the SCAF will move to amend Article 60 of last year's constitutional declaration. This article gives the two houses of parliament – the People's Assembly and Shura Council – the authority to draw up the assembly. "The article will be amended so as to give the SCAF the right to form the assembly in accordance with the guidelines adopted at the 28 April meeting with all political forces," said Bakri.
The 28 April meeting between the SCAF and party representatives ended in a six-point deal.
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