Egypt’s parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal told MPs on Monday that he is keen to listen to their comments and remarks on proposed amendments to Egypt's 2014 constitution.
"We want a dialogue without barriers, but at the same time this dialogue should be within the limit of the amendments submitted by the majority MPs on 3 February," said Abdel-Aal.
Abdel-Aal, addressing MPs representing the capital Cairo and Upper Egypt governorates, said "I want to listen to your comments on the proposed constitutional amendments, but I also want to know from you the questions being raised by citizens in your own districts about the proposed amendments."
"For example, when I was in Aswan last week, citizens asked me many questions such as what is the objective of the proposed constitutional amendments, and why should they be submitted at this time," said Abdel-Aal.
"I think that you face the same questions in your own districts and as a result you should be able to answer and explain them to citizens at such a crucial time."
"As a constitutional law professor and a specialist in this respect, I can also give you good answers to tell to citizens in your own districts," said Abdel-Aal.
The two-hour debate, held at the meeting hall of the Shura Council, showed that there is a lot of rejection of the amendment that aims to give a greater quota of parliamentary seats (25 percent) to women. Mostafa Bakri, an independent MP and a journalist, said there are a lot of reservations that the quota of seats reserved to women in parliament be increased to 25 percent.
"This contradicts Article 53 of the constitution, which states that all citizens are equal and that there is no discrimination," said Bakri, adding that he has “fears that if implemented, this amendment could be ruled unconstitutional.”
Besides, said Bakri, some amendments need more explanation, such as the one aimed at reinstating the Shura Council.
"If approved, this council should have clear objectives and have legislative and supervisory powers," said Bakri, adding that "we do not need a symbolic house that will be costly and meaningless."
The parliament speaker is expected to hold another internal debate with MPs representing Alexandria and the Nile Delta governorates on Tuesday.
On Wednesday and Thursday, there will be three hearing sessions with representatives of political parties, civil society organisations and public figures.