Mursi appoints liberals Christians in upper house parliament

Published: Updated:
Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi announced on Saturday the names of 90 new members he appointed to the upper house of parliament according to his constitutional prerogatives.

A presidential official, ahead of the formal announcement, said 75 percent of those selected were not Islamists, and included liberals and Christians, a minority who make up about 10 percent of the population.

According to a statement on the presidential spokesperson Yasser Ali’s Facebook page, “the appointed members represent 17 political parties, of which 12 parties were not previously represented among Shura members,” reported state-owned newspaper Al Ahram.

The selected members also include 8 women and 2 representatives of the January 25 revolution’s injured. Among the appointees are also 12 Copts (including 8 Church representatives) and 5 members of Azhar, the country’s leading Islamic institution.

Two thirds of the 270-member upper house were elected in a vote early this year, with one third appointed by the president. Mursi, elected in June, had not named them till now. Mursi's Islamist party and its allies dominate the assembly.

Hussein Abdel Ghani, a spokesman for the National Salvation Front, a coalition of leading opposition politicians and groups, said ahead of the announcement that the Front refused to take any seats. "We will never accept such thing," he told Reuters.

The constitutional court had been due to deliver a ruling on the legality of the upper house of parliament earlier this month, but a protest by Islamists outside the court halted its work and the assembly has continued to operate.

Under a new constitution expected to be approved in a referendum on Saturday, the upper house will assume legislative powers now held by the president until a new lower house it elected in a vote likely to take place early in 2013.

The lower house of parliament, also dominated by Islamists, was dissolved earlier this year after a court declared the rules by which it was elected unconstitutional.