Egypt's parliamentary majority 'Support Egypt' coalition took all by surprise today when it submitted a drafted law regulating the performance of the Senate, or the country's upper house. The decision came on the day parliament was scheduled to adjourn for summer recess.
Abdel-Hadi El-Qasabi, leader of the majority bloc, told reporters that he officially submitted the draft law to parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal on Thursday.
"The draft law will be referred to parliament's constitutional and legislative affairs committee to be discussed today (Thursday)," said El-Qasabi, arguing that "the law is balanced and observes the constitution."
Egypt's constitutional amendments, passed in a public referendum last April, state that a Senate will be formed to bring the country back to the two-house system.
The majority coalition's draft law states that the Senate will comprise 240 members – 80 to be elected by the slate system and 80 by the individual candidacy system.
"The president will have the right to name 80 appointees so that the Senate's total number will stand at 240 members," the draft law says.
According to the draft law, the above goes in line with Article 248 of last April's constitutional amendments.
"This states that the roles of the Senate will be to study and propose all that is necessary to reinforce the foundations of democracy in Egypt, support social peace, preserve the tenets of society and its supreme values, rights and freedoms and public duties," said El-Qasabi.
The draft law also states that in accordance with Article 249, the Senate will be consulted on proposed amendments to the constitution, the state's socio-economic development plan, the peace and alliance treaties, laws proposed by the president and the House of Representatives, and other issues related to the state's public policies or those related to Egypt's Arab and foreign relations.
Article 251 of the amended constitution also stipulates that a Senate member should be Egyptian, have a university degree, be no less than 35 years of age, and that a Senate member should not be a House MP at the same time.
Parliament speaker Abdel-Aal told MPs on Thursday that he decided that more plenary meetings will be held next week to discuss a number of laws which were referred by the government in the last few days.