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Egypt's Sisi to discuss national issues with ‎leading MPs Wednesday

The parliamentary representatives of 19 political ‎parties will discuss a range of political, security and ‎economic issues with president Sisi on ‎Wednesday

Gamal Essam El-Din , Tuesday 12 Apr 2016
Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (AFP)
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The spokespersons of 19 political parties in Egypt's ‎parliament – the House of Representatives – will ‎meet President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on Wednesday ‎to discuss a variety of national issues.

The meeting ‎will also include heads of trade unions, professional ‎syndicates, human rights organisations, the National ‎Council for Women, and a number of high-profile ‎media figures.‎

Secretary-general of parliament Ahmed Saadeddin ‎told reporters Tuesday that parliament speaker Ali ‎Abdel-Al and his two deputies – El-Sayed El-Sherif ‎and Soliman Wahdan – will not participate in the ‎meeting.

"The presidential invitations were directed ‎to parliamentary spokespersons and five ‎independents only," said Saaeddin.‎

Alaa Abed, the parliamentary spokesperson of the ‎Free Egyptians Party – which holds 65 seats – told reporters ‎that he received an invitation for a ‎meeting with President El-Sisi on Wednesday morning. ‎‎

"We have also received phone calls from the ‎presidency stating that the meeting will be held at ‎Ittihadiya presidential palace on Wednesday ‎morning," said Abed.‎

Bahaaeddin Abu Shoqa, the parliamentary ‎spokesperson of the liberal Wafd Party – which holds 36 seats –told reporters that Wafd welcomes ‎President El-Sisi's invitation.

"I think that the ‎meeting comes within the context of President El-‎Sisi's keenness to explore the views of the country's ‎major national forces on the current political and ‎economic policies," said Abu Shoqa.‎

He added that the invitation did not specify whether ‎there will be an agenda for the meeting.

"I think this ‎meeting will be similar to the one President El-Sisi ‎held with the country's intellectual elite [on 22 March]," said Abu Shoqa, adding that "in these ‎kinds of meetings, El-Sisi prefers listening to others ‎to talking."

"We do not have an agenda, but we have ‎a list of economic and political priorities we want to ‎discuss with President El-Sisi," said Abu Shoqa, adding that"it is highly important for the ‎president of the republic to hold regular meetings ‎with major political forces, as this allows forces to ‎direct questions about controversial issues and seek ‎answers from the head of the state."‎

Mohamed Khalifa, the parliamentary spokesperson ‎for the ultraconservative Salafist Nour Party, also told ‎reporters that he received an invitation to attend ‎the meeting.

Mohamed Badrawi, the parliamentary spokesperson ‎of the National Movement Party, told reporters that ‎he believes the date of the meeting is important ‎because it comes just one week before parliament ‎will decide whether it will grant or withhold ‎confidence from the government of Prime Minister ‎Sherif Ismail.

"Although the government will be ‎granted a vote of confidence, all political forces ‎in parliament believe that this confidence will come ‎not out of conviction, but rather because they have ‎no choice in this respect," said Badrawi.

"If I am ‎given the floor, I will be clear in telling El-Sisi that ‎this is one of the worst governments we have ever ‎seen in the history of Egypt."

"This government has ‎pushed the country into a severe economic crisis, ‎while the prime minister is a highly technocratic ‎person who lacks any popularity," said Badrawi.‎

Badrawi also said that he believes that four main issues ‎will dominate the meeting; the economic crisis, ‎Saudi King Salman's recent five-day visit to Egypt, ‎the controversy over the two Red Sea islands of ‎Tiran and Sanafir – which Egypt recently decided to hand over to Saudi Arabia – and the case of ‎Italian student Regeni, who was killed in Cairo last ‎January.

Badrawi lamented that he was not allowed ‎to deliver a statement on the Regeni case in ‎parliament.

"While the EU and Italian parliaments ‎were allowed to open a debate on this issue, I ‎wonder why Egyptian MPs are not allowed to ‎do the same," Badrawi.‎

A 13-member parliamentary delegation ‎left Cairo for Strasbourg, France on Sunday to ‎respond to attacks related to the Regeni murder case ‎and the state of human rights in Egypt in ‎general.

"We prepared a report aimed at responding ‎to all attacks, with all the necessary documents, ‎statistics and photos attached," said MP Ahmed Said, ‎the head of the Egyptian parliamentary delegation to ‎Strasbourg. ‎

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