However, lawmakers from liberal and leftist parties withdrew from Saturday's crucial vote, saying the country's most powerful political group — the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood which won a sweeping victory in parliamentary elections earlier this year — was trying to monopolize the 100-member panel.
Liberals say that a permanent constitution should not be written solely by the victors of a single election, but it should include all political and ideological streams in the assembly and represent all sectors of Egyptian society.
The new constitution will define the balance of power between the Islamist-dominated parliament and once all-powerful president. A power struggle over the future document is already underway between Egypt's army-backed executive and the parliament, which wants to curb presidential powers.
Other key concerns are the role of Islamic Sharia law, which is subject to a wide variety of interpretation, as well as the role of the military and the future of the country's military rulers. VoA