Advisers resign from body drafting Egypt constitution -agency

* Drafting assembly beset with problems

* May miss crucial Dec. 12 deadline

* Representatives of three churches withdraw from assembly

* Former presidential candidate Amr Moussa says may resign

CAIRO, Nov 17 (Reuters) - A group of technical advisers

helping to write Egypt's new constitution resigned on Saturday,

saying they would draw up a draft of their own because their

voices were not being heard, state news agency MENA said.

The resignations further complicate a drafting process

delayed by bickering among Islamists and liberals, raising

doubts whether the document would be ready by a Dec. 12

deadline.

The constitution, to be voted upon in a referendum, is a

cornerstone of Egypt's democratic transition after the uprising

that ousted Hosni Mubarak last year.

Without it, the country cannot hold elections to replace a

parliament declared void by a court in June. The dissolved

parliament was dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood of President

Mohamed Mursi, who is the first elected president of the Arab

world's most populous state.

The 100-member constituent assembly drafting the

constitution appointed the advisers several weeks ago to provide

technical assistance.

Representatives of three Christian churches have also said

they were withdrawing their five members from the assembly, and

on Wednesday former presidential candidate Amr Moussa, a

liberal, said he and other members had suspended their

participation.

The advisers said they wanted "a complete draft that is

appropriate for Egypt and achieves the goals of the revolution

of freedom and social justice," but that their advice was being

ignored and they had become superfluous, MENA reported.

The assembly's chairman, Hossam El Gheriany, said he

regretted the advisers' withrawal, but their complaints were

unjustified and all of their recommendations had been

distributed to the assembly's members, MENA reported.

Drafts of the constitution drawn up by the assembly so far

indicate it will have more Islamic references than the previous

constitution, worrying more liberal-minded Egyptians and

Christians, who make up about a tenth of the nation of 83

million. They fear the imposition of social restrictions.

An important article stating that "the principles of sharia"

are the main source of legislation has until now remained

unchanged from the old constitution. But a new article seeks to

spell out what those principles are.

Sharia is Islamic religious law.

Monsef Soliman, one of three representatives of the Coptic

Orthodox Church in the assembly, said the decision to withdraw

was taken on Thursday. Representatives of the Catholic and

Anglican churches have also withdrawn, Soliman said.

Former presidential candidate Amr Moussa said on Wednesday

that a small group with its own agenda within the assembly was

pushing articles through without proper discussion, and that he

and others would decide on Sunday if they would resign from the

body entirely.

The technical advisers said most of their recommendations

were unrelated to the articles on sharia, but rather those

dealing with the balance of power and other issues.

President Mursi will not attend the installation ceremony of

the new Coptic pope, Tawardros II, on Sunday, the church said on

Friday, to the dismay of Christians who fear being sidelined in

the new Islamist-led Egypt.

(Writing by Patrick Werr; editing by Jason Webb)

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