Middle East

Panel writing Egypt constitution hit by fresh boycotts

A group of protesters, one has a megaphone
Image caption Protesters have taken to the streets to denounce the make-up of the panel

One of the senior authorities in Sunni Islam has withdrawn from a panel which is writing a new constitution for Egypt.

The al-Azhar University said in a statement that it was under-represented in the constituent assembly.

The old constitution was suspended after the former President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown last year.

Other groups withdrew from the panel earlier this week, accusing Islamists of monopolising the process.

The panel is made up of 100 Egyptians - 50 lawmakers from the upper and lower houses of parliament, and 50 public figures.

These people were appointed by parliament, which is dominated by the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.

Liberal, leftist and independent parties have already walked out, and the French news agency AFP is reporting that the Coptic Christian Church is considering whether it should follow suit.

Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court has also decided to withdraw its representative from the panel.

The old constitution acknowledges the principles of Islamic or Sharia law, but some would like the country to follow these more strictly.

This comes at a critical time for Egypt as the country prepares for presidential elections, which are due to be held in less than two months' time.