Court calls halt to Egyptian assembly

An EGYPTIAN court has halted a move to create a new constitutional assembly pending a ruling on its legality, challenging the legitimacy of a body which has been spurned by liberal and Christian groups because of its domination by Islamists.

The injunction could delay the introduction of a constitution needed urgently to clarify the powers of Egypt’s new head of state, due to take over from ruling generals by mid-year.

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State lawyers say the court has no say over the move to form the 100-member constituent assembly, which has pressed ahead with its work though dozens of non-Islamist representatives have quit, complaining their voices are being drowned out.

Khairat al-Shater, presidential candidate for the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement which holds most seats in parliament and chairs the assembly, said: “I respect all rulings and call on all national forces to sit together to reach better solutions to overcome this crisis.”