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Egypt Court Suspends Constitutional Assembly

Salafi members of parliament are seen during the first Egyptian parliament session, after a revolution ousted former President Hosni Mubarak, in Cairo, January 23, 2012

An Egyptian court has suspended an Islamist-dominated panel that has the job of rewriting the country's constitution.

The ruling issued Tuesday follows complaints from lawyers and liberal political parties who say the Islamist majority in the new parliament abused its powers by allocating a majority of the panel's seats to themselves and like-minded individuals.

Many liberal and leftist party members had already withdrawn from the 100-member panel in protest of Islamist attempts to dominate the process. Forging a new constitution is a crucial step in Egypt's attempts to form a new government.

A key goal of Egypt's new charter is to define the balance of power between the Islamist-dominated parliament and the post of president, formerly held by Hosni Mubarak until a popular uprising toppled him last year.

An Egyptian military council that took over from Mr. Mubarak has been exercising executive powers since the February 2011 revolution, with the help of an army-appointed Cabinet. The role of the military in Egypt's political system is another issue expected to be addressed by the new constitution.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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