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Egypt parliament's speaker attacks research centres, ‎dismisses claims of private Facebook account

The speaker of Egypt's parliament Ali Abdel-Aal has caused a row ‎after accusing independent research centres of trying to disrupt the country's institutions

Gamal Essam El-Din , Monday 30 May 2016
Egypt
Egypt's parliament speaker Ali Abdelaal speaks during the opening session at the main headquarters of parliament in Cairo, Egypt, January 10, 2016 (Reuters)
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In a statement on Sunday, the speaker of Egypt's parliament Ali ‎Abdel-Aal dismissed claims that he has a private ‎‎Facebook account.

"The speaker of Egypt's parliament Ali Abdel-‎Aal dismisses claims that he has a private Facebook or ‎Twitter account and that what has been published by some ‎media outlets in this respect is completely unfounded," a ‎statement by the parliament's secretariat-general said on ‎Sunday.‎

‎The statement added that the "speaker of Egypt's parliament has by no means ‎any relation with what was published on these "fake accounts" ‎and that they are not official in nature and only express ‎the opinion of those who created them."‎

The statement also urged media outlets to seek accuracy and ‎credibility when it comes to publishing news about Egypt's House of Representatives.

"Those who fail ‎to adhere to accuracy could face legal action and they should be ‎well aware of this," the statement said.‎

Abdel-Aal, who is currently attending a conference for ‎Mediterranean parliaments in Morocco, also opened a front ‎against what he called "anti-national research centres."

In a ‎plenary session on 22 May, Abdel-Aal accused "some centres" ‎of leading an orderly campaign aimed at disrupting the ‎performance of Egypt's parliament and other state institutions. ‎‎

"These centres organise training courses for MPs to teach them ‎how to disrupt Egypt's legislative authority and demolish other ‎state institutions," said Abdel-Al, adding that "they are part of ‎an orderly foreign campaign against Egypt's parliament and ‎they receive assistance from some at home to disrupt the state's ‎constitutional institutions."‎

Abdel-Aal charged that "some MPs have joined training courses ‎in these research centres without having adequate ‎information about ‘their poisonous intentions.’"

‎‎"I am not trying to raise doubts on the national loyalty of any of ‎the MPs, but I just want to warn them that these centres handle ‎information that pose a big threat to national security and urge ‎MPs to reject the state budget for political interests and is based ‎on incorrect dates," Abdel-Aal said. 

Abdel-Aal warned that MPs who take part in these ‎courses would be referred to the ethics committee.

"I do not ‎want to silence criticism of the state budget and the ‎government's monetary policy in parliament, but I warn MPs ‎who might use "incorrect information" about the monetary policy to ‎disrupt the state's institutions," Abdel-Al said.‎

Abdel-Aal said he has "a complete dossier" about the research ‎centres which organise training courses that target the country's ‎national security.

"The house's secretariat-general will ‎announce the complete list of these centres in due time," said ‎Abdel-Al, explaining that parliament's special training centres ‎will give MPs all the courses necessary to help them review the ‎budget and analyse its items.‎

Parliament's secretariat-general announced that a large number of ‎MPs attended a two-day training workshop on "the state budget ‎and balance sheet."

"A number of high-profile economists like ‎Osman Mohamed Osman, a former minister of planning, gave ‎lectures to a significant number of MPs on 25 and 26 May on how to ‎make a critical review of the state budget and balance sheet," ‎parliament's secretariat-general said.‎

Abdel-Aal's attack against "research centres" has caused mixed ‎reactions among MPs.

Taher Abu Zeid, an independent MP and ‎a former minister of sports, said "he agrees with Abdel-Aal that ‎some MPs have joined "well-paid" courses from some research ‎centres and it is highly dangerous that these centres use ‎‎"incorrect information" and urge MPs to reject the state budget ‎for political reasons."

Abu Zeid cited Abdel-Al as telling him ‎that "some foreign centres have invited a number of MPs to travel ‎abroad and take courses that imperil Egypt's national security ‎and that he would not forgive this."‎

By contrast, Haitham Al-Hariri, a leftist MP, told a TV channel ‎that "Abdel-Aal's accusations should be completely rejected."

"Before ‎the speaker opens fire on any MPs, he should first announce the ‎names of "the anti-Egypt centres and the names of MPs who ‎received training in these centres," said Hariri.‎

Al-Hariri said a leftist parliamentary group known by the name ‎of the “25-30 Group” has submitted an official request to Abdel-Al, ‎asking him to disclose the names of "the anti-Egypt centres and ‎the MPs who received training in there."‎

Some MPs, who asked not to be identified, told Ahram ‎Online that "when Abdel-Al was speaking about "research ‎centres" he was meaning Al-Ahram's Centre for Political and ‎Strategic Centres (ACPSS) which organised some training ‎courses for MPs in the Red Sea resort of Ain Al-Sokhna two ‎weeks ago.

MPs also disclosed that Abdel-Aal was up in arms "because one ‎of the professors in these courses was leftist economist Abdel-‎Khaleq Farouk who accused Egypt's new state budget of being biased ‎against the poor."

In a quick reaction to Abdel-Aal's accusations, Diaa Rashwan, ‎the director of the Centre for Political and Strategic ‎Studies, told reporters this week that ACPSS is one of ‎the world's high-profile independent research centres.

"Training ‎courses are a basic part of ACPSS's activity and we just help ‎new MPs on how to review the budget, but never to disrupt state ‎institutions," Rashwan said.‎

‎"I want to make it clear that ACPSS is one of Egypt's state ‎authorities and can never participate in any activity that seeks ‎to disrupt these authorities," Rashwan.‎

Rashwan admitted that ACPSS invited some European and ‎British professors to give training courses to MPs in the area of ‎monetary policy in the Red Sea resort of Ain Sokhna.

"Some ‎‎25 MPs received training in Sokhna, and they were given ‎lectures on how to read the budget and analyse its items in a ‎neutral way," said Rashwan, disclosing that "Abdel-Aal himself ‎received training courses in Al-Ahram Centre before he ‎became the speaker of Egypt's parliament."‎

 

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