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Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Egypt parliament to impose new code of ethics to discipline 'rogue MPs'

According to the new code, MPs will be not be allowed to give interviews to Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated television channels broadcasting from Qatar and Turkey

Gamal Essam El-Din , Sunday 26 Aug 2018
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File photo: Egyptian parliament (Photo: Reuters)
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Informed sources told reporters this week that Egypt's parliament – the House of Representatives – is currently in the process of drafting a new code of ethics to be implemented before the House reconvenes in October.

"This code was proposed by parliament's central bureau, including the speaker and his two deputies, to cover issues which have caused much damage to the House's reputation during the last three outgoing sessions," an insider source said. 

The source explained that Article 286 of parliament's internal bylaws states that parliament should prepare a code of ethics to ensure that MPs follow the correct constitutional rules, respect state authorities, and observe good manners and behaviour inside parliament.

The source said that the code of ethics will also go far to ensure that MPs follow certain rules when speaking with television channels.

"The speaker and majority leaders have noticed that some rogue MPs have become fond of giving interviews with hostile satellite television channels, particularly those affiliated with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood," the source said.

Some MPs, even those affiliated with pro-government majority blocs, have admitted that they have given interviews with Muslim Brotherhood-sponsored television channels broadcasting from Qatar and Turkey.

However, they insisted that they had done this without being aware that they were talking with Muslim Brotherhood TV mouthpieces.

Saeed Hassasseen, an MP representing the Social Democratic Party, told parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal last June that several Muslim Brotherhood channels broadcasting from Qatar and Turkey were trying their best during the House's outgoing session to conduct interviews with MPs.

"Sometimes they use false names and at other times they even claim they are the BBC or CNN," Hassasseen said, adding that "in some cases they were able to deceive MPs, but this should ring alarm bells that MPs should be more than careful when talking with any television channel."

Parliamentary sources revealed that the new code of ethics will state that MPs cannot talk with or give interviews to hostile channels, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood ones broadcasting from Qatar and Turkey.

"This procedure mainly targets rogue leftist MPs who talk with the hostile media on purpose," said the source.

The source named Alexandria MP Haitham El-Hariri, head of parliament's leftist bloc known as the 25-30 group, who gave a number of interviews with Mekamleen, a Muslim Brotherhood channel broadcasting from Istanbul, on thorny issues such as "the Egyptian-Saudi Red Sea demarcation deal and last week's arrest of former diplomat and leftist activist Masoum Marzouq."

Farag Amer, an Alexandrian industrialist and head of parliament's Youth and Sports Committee, told reporters that MPs are free to talk with all kinds of television channels broadcasting from Egypt, Arab countries, and even from some European capitals such as London, which has become a hub for hostile Arab media in recent years.

"But all know that Egypt as a country is in a state of war against the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group and that Egypt is a member of an Arab alliance which has cut relations with Qatar because of its generous financial assistance to this group and to other radical Islamist movements," Amer said.

"I agree that MPs should observe this fact and not let themselves be exploited by channels targeting the internal security and stability of Egypt."

Sources also indicated that parliament's code of ethics will cover other vital issues such as "disciplining MPs who might direct insulting words to high-ranking state officials," direct "impolite words" to the speaker, who come to parliament in "casual wear", and who use their parliamentary membership to achieve personal gains.

Mohamed Abu Hamed, an independent MP, told reporters that the new code of ethics will also address the issue of MPs attending parliament's plenary sittings.

"The code will aim to discipline MPs who have made a point not to attend these sittings," Hamed said, adding that "these MPs have turned a deaf ear to the speaker, who has warned them many times that they would be referred to the ethics committee."

"Now the time has come for these MPs to be disciplined as their organised and regular absence has made it difficult for parliament to take a final vote on many important laws on time," Abu Hamed said.

Abu Hamed said the code of ethics being drafted will propose that there will be a black list of "absent MPs" to be announced by different media outlets.

"If this proves unsuccessful, they could be forced to pay hefty fines and be expelled from parliament," Abu Hamed said.

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