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Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Egypt's parliament strips MP Anwar El-Sadat of membership

The House vote comes after reports found Sadat guilty of leaking 'secret information to international institutions,' and forging signatures of 16 colleagues; Sadat has denied all accusations; the opposition 25-30 boycotts session

Gamal Essam El-Din , Gamal Essam El-Din , Monday 27 Feb 2017
MP Anwar El-Sadat (Al-Ahram)
MP Anwar El-Sadat (Al-Ahram)
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Egypt's parliament stripped on Monday high-profile MP Anwar El-Sadat of membership after 486 MPs - more than the two-thirds of 596 deputies required in expulsion proposals – voted for the motion in a roll call.

According to Ahram Arabic news website, 468 MPs voted to strip Sadat of his parliamentary membership, eight voted against, and four abstained. Members of the 25-30 opposition bloc boycotted the session in solidarity with Sadat. One MP was expelled from the session for opposing the roll call.

The anti-Sadat motion came after an 11-page report, prepared by parliament's Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee, found Sadat guilty of leaking information related to internal conditions in Egypt to international institutions and aiming to tarnish the image of parliament.  

The report said Sadat was also found guilty of forging the signatures of 16 of MP colleagues on two draft laws he had prepared on criminal procedures and NGOs. 

Another report by the parliament's ethics committee accused Sadat of leaking a controversial draft NGO law to foreign ambassadors in Egypt in a bid to mobilise them against the law.

In accordance with Article 110 of the constitution, no less than two-thirds of MPs –398 MPs out of 596 – must vote in a roll call in favour of the motion against Sadat for it to be valid. 

Sadat was asked to leave the chamber before the vote commenced. 

Members of the leftist 25-30 bloc, who walked out of the session before the roll call in protest, said that the report indicting Sadat was rammed through parliament without allowing enough time for discussion by MPs.

“The report that recommended that Sadat be stripped of membership was politicised and issued in a hasty way,” said bloc member MP Samir Ghattas.  

Sadat and a majority of MPs have been at loggerheads for months over his criticism of the NGO draft law and his questioning of parliament practices in disposal of internal budget as the country faces an economic crunch.

Shortly after the vote results were announced, Sadat told Ahram that the motion and the vote come as part of an "organised campaign against him."

"What happened is based upon false accusation and media campaign that continued for weeks to defame my image despite my defence using documents and my request to stand in front of Egyptian judiciary to answer those claims," Sadat said. 

Mohamed El-Sewedi, head of parliament’s majority bloc Support Egypt (315 MPs), had said his bloc respects the reports made by the ethics committee and the legislative and constitutional affairs committee on Sadat, “as a result we will vote in favour of stripping Sadat of membership.” 

Alaa Abed, an MP who replaced Sadat as head of parliament's human rights committee, said his Free Egyptians Party (65 MPs) will also vote in favour of expelling Sadat. 

Sadat, the nephew of late president Anwar El-Sadat and head of the liberal Reform and Development Party, is the second MP whose membership has been revoked by Egypt’s new parliament.

The first was Tawfik Okasha, a high-profile TV anchor who was found guilty of having contacts with Israel's ambassador in Egypt without getting parliament's prior approval. 

The head of the Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee Bahaaeddin Abu Shoqa said that Sadat was allowed to defend himself.

“He was summoned to the committee to answer questions, not to mention that he was also allowed to present members of the committee copies of a detailed statement which he issued to respond to accusations,” said Abu Shoqa. 

"In spite of Sadat's defence, the majority of the committee's members – 40 out of a total 49 – have found Sadat guilty and voted in favour of stripping him of parliamentary membership,” Abu Shoqa added.

He added that in accordance with article 110 of the constitution, Sadat has “lost parliament's trust and confidence and as a result MPs have agreed that he must be stripped of membership.” 

Abu Shoqa said that Sadat used his own email and another private email to send information to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

“The majority of members agreed that Sadat's email messages [to the IPU] aimed at tarnishing the image of Egypt's parliament and that Sadat even incited the IPU to take action against our parliament,” said Abu Shoqa.  

Abu Shoqa said Sadat told the IPU that security apparatuses took control of Egypt's parliament and that they intervened to help a former police officer become the head of parliament's human rights committee in place of him. 

Sadat has denied that he had forwarded any classified information to any foreign institutions.

“A draft of the government NGO law is available on the internet and anyone can take a copy of it, why would I give it to a foreign embassy?” Sadat said.

Sadat also insisted that “what was sent to the IPU was just a complaint and by no means classified information.”

Sadat also denied that he had forged the signatures of 16 of his colleagues on laws he drafted on criminal procedures and NGOs.

“Most of these colleagues gave their signatures but they decided later to withdraw these signatures,” Sadat said.

Before the vote, Sadat was allowed by Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal to defend himself. 

Sadat told MPs that when he sent messages to the IPU, he was exercising freedom of speech.

“I was exercising a kind of self-criticism and my aim was to reform Egypt's legislative authority,” said Sadat. 

Abdel-Aal responded to Sadat, “but what you sent the IPU was not just criticism, as you also incited the IPU to take action against Egypt's parliament.”

“In your message to the IPU, you said our parliament has become an ineffective and powerless institution that has violated the constitution, and as a result asked the IPU to intervene,” charged Abdel-Aal. 

Sadat responded by asking the speaker “what would be your reaction if I told the IPU that ‘everything in our parliament is okay and that we are implementing the constitution in an excellent way?’, to which the speaker told Sadat “you know that MPs are banned from sending negative or positive messages to foreign institutions.” 

Sources said the two reports prepared by the ethics committee and the legislative and constitutional affairs committee would be referred to prosecution authorities to investigate Sadat. 

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