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Egypt parliament's first session to continue till October

Egyptian MPs said Tuesday that parliament's first session should be extended so as to make time for a busy agenda

Gamal Essam El-Din , Tuesday 22 Mar 2016
Parliament
A general view shows members of the Egyptian parliament attending the opening session at the main headquarters of Parliament in Cairo, Egypt, January 10, 2016 (Reuters)
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Egyptian MPs agree that parliament's first legislative session (2015-2016) should be extended until October rather than end in July, Bahaaeddin Abu Shoqa, an appointed MP and secretary-general of the liberal Wafd Party, told reporters on Tuesday.

Abu Shoqa said that as Article 115 of the new constitution stipulates that the duration of each of parliament's five legislative sessions must be at least nine months (or from October to July), MPs agree that the first session should be extended.

"As the new parliament's first session began in January 2016 [instead of October 2015], it must end in October 2016," said Abu Shoqa, adding that "the extension is necessary to meet a busy legislative agenda stipulated by the constitution."

Abu Shoqa indicated that although parliament could adjourn the session in July to take a three-month holiday, "MPs say they do not want this holiday – or can take just one month as a summer holiday – so that they can have time to discuss a busy legislative agenda and exercise their supervisory roles."

"In order to implement the new constitution, there should be a legislative revolution in this country," said Abu Shoqa, adding that" in order to meet this objective and live up to the aspirations of Egyptians in this respect, parliament must work day and night until next October."

The number of days parliament has convened since January stands at only 21, with MPs receiving total financial compensation estimated at EGP 25 million over the last two months, according to newly released figures.

Ahmed Abul-Ela, an MP affiliated with the liberal Free Egyptians Party, also agreed that "parliament has a very busy schedule ahead."

"We have to discuss the government's programme over one month, after which we have to prepare ourselves for reviewing the new state budget," said Abul-Ela.

"This will leave no time to discuss in parliament's first session laws stipulated by the new constitution as a priority, such as three laws regulating the media and the construction and restoration of churches, not to mention a new transitional justice law."

Abul-Ela said the Free Egyptians Party is in favour of parliament taking only one month as summer holiday.

"Parliament can adjourn sessions during the holy month of Ramadan and take it as a summer holiday, after which it can convene again to finish the legislative agenda," said Abul-Ela.

Alaa Abdel-Moneim, the spokesperson of the Support Egypt parliamentary bloc, also told reporters that extending the first parliamentary session by two or three months has become a necessity to finish an ambitious legislative agenda.

"We have to show all Egyptians that parliamentary membership is not a luxury, but rather a hard duty to secure their interests," said Abdel-Moneim.

El-Sayed El-Sherif, the deputy parliament speaker, told reporters that he is also highly in favour of extending the first session to next October.

"But this proposal must first gain the approval of parliament's internal bureau, and if everything goes well, it will be submitted for discussion in a plenary session," said El-Sherif.

Nadia Henry, an MP with the Free Egyptians Party, also argued that "as the first two months after parliament's first meeting were devoted to reviewing 341 laws and drafting 338 new article bylaws, and as the government's budget and policy statement is expected to take another two months of discussion, the extension of the first legislative session has become a necessity." 

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