The Egyptian parliament's legislative agenda in the near future will give top priority to issuing new media and press laws in line with the new constitution, said parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Ali on Monday.
"I as speaker face a hostile media campaign that is trying its best to portray the country's new parliament as ineffective and lacking in achievements after two months in session," said Abdel-Al in a meeting with journalists.
"The media does not want to understand that the House of Representatives has been passing through hard times since it held its first session on 10 January," he said.
"We were required first to review dozens of laws passed after the new constitution and then draft new internal bylaws, and these in themselves were big achievements," said Abdel-Al, stressing that "the actual legislative and supervisory roles of parliament will begin only after its internal bylaws [approved last week] are enacted into law."
Abdel-Al also argued that as the speaker of a parliament composed of the unprecedented number of 596 MPs, he faces "the difficult task of imposing discipline."
"This task becomes more difficult when each MP acts like a political party, and so sometimes I find myself dealing with 594 political parties rather than with individual MPs," he said.
Abdel-Al added that since around 70 percent of members are first-time MPs, they lack any experience in parliamentary or constitutional rules.
"We are a parliament still without a majority or a minority, so please wait until the new bylaws are passed," said Abdel-Al.
The meeting with Abdel-Al was attended by members of the board of the Journalists Syndicate and a number of editors-in-chief of national and private newspapers and magazines.
Abdel-Al stressed that parliament has not received any draft laws aimed at regulating the media or the press in line with the new constitution.
"I have not received any laws in this respect from the government or from any other institution," said Abdel-Al.
Abdel-Al said he fully understands the importance of issuing new laws that give the media greater freedoms.
"I used to give lectures on this when I was a professor of law at Ain Shams University," said Abdel-Al, vowing that "any press or media laws sent to parliament will be discussed in consultation with the Journalists Syndicate."
Essam Kamel, editor-in-chief of Veto newspaper, told reporters that the Journalists Syndicate requested of Abdel-Al that "live television coverage of parliamentary sessions be allowed again and that press photographers have greater freedom in taking photos of plenary sessions."
"We told speaker Abdel-Al that people have a right to follow parliamentary sessions live on air and judge by themselves whether parliament is doing well," Yasser Rizq, board chairman of Al-Akhbar press organisation, told reporters.
"Speaker Abdel-Al said he must get the approval of MPs before live television coverage is allowed again," said Rizq.