Egypt's largest political group, the Muslim Brotherhood, warned the country's military rulers Saturday not to interfere in the writing of a new constitution.
The statement from the Brotherhood marks the first time the Islamist group has directly challenged Egypt's ruling military council since the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak in February.
The group's stand was prompted by comments from a senior government official this week that the military council will soon set out certain principles outlining who is eligible to draft a new constitution. The Brotherhood also fears the military is trying to enshrine a political role for itself in the constitution.
The drawing up of a new constitution is a topic of intense debate in Egypt.
Parliamentary elections are slated for later this year, and the Brotherhood and its fellow Islamists are expected to do well at the polls. That would likely give them a dominant voice in appointing the committee that will draft a new constitution.
Liberals fear that an Islamist-dominated committee will produce a document that serves only the Islamists' agenda.
Islamists, meanwhile, fear that specifying a political role for the army in the country's public life would curb their own ability to shape Egypt's future. Liberals are concerned by the prospect of a military role in public life because it would run counter to their hopes of having a country governed in full by civilian rulers.