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Islamists Win Majority on Egypt's Constitution-Drafting Panel

Protesters shout slogans from a donkey cart during a rally against the formation of a constituent assembly tasked with drafting a new constitution outside the Cairo convention center, March 24, 2012.

Egyptian Islamists have won a majority of seats on a 100-member panel assigned with drafting a new constitution that secular and liberal groups fear will boost the role of Islam in society.

Egypt's official MENA news agency published the names of the panel members on Sunday, a day after they were selected in a joint session of parliament's lower house and senate, both dominated by Islamists.

Of the 50 lawmakers selected for the constituent assembly, Egyptian media say 37 are Islamists. The other 50 panel members selected from civil society also include enough Islamists to give them a majority in the 100-seat assembly.

Egyptian liberal and leftist lawmakers from minority parties boycotted parliament's selection of the panel, in protest at what they call Islamist attempts to monopolize the constitution-drafting process. The liberals and leftists fear the new constitution will ignore their concerns and values.

The constituent assembly is due to hold its first meeting on Wednesday. A key goal of Egypt's new charter will be to define the balance of power between the Islamist-dominated parliament and the post of president, formerly held by the all-powerful Hosni Mubarak until a popular uprising toppled him last year.

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

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