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Tantawi absent from joint parliament session amid 'security concern'

Egypt's acting president fails to attend the joint parliament session he called for to discuss the forming the country's constituent assembly; observers speculate absence is due to security concerns and NGO debacle

Ahram Online, Saturday 3 Mar 2012
Tantawi
Head of military council Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi (Photo: Reuters)
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Head of the ruling military council and acting president Field Marshal Tantawi is yet to attend the first joint parliamentary session he called last Sunday to discuss the formation of the constituent assembly that will write Egypt's new constitution.

Egypt's president has traditionally delivered a keynote speech at such joint sessions.

There has been speculation that Tantawi's absence is due to security concerns as a result of recent developments in the US-NGO fiasco.

As of Friday, Tantawi was expected to address both the upper and lower houses of parliament about the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces' (SCAF) 'achievements' since former president Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February 2011. He was also set to outline the ruling military council's agenda for the country until the transfer of power to a civilian authority on 30 June, a date set by the SCAF.

The conference, that is taking place at the Cairo International Conference Centre, is attended by the elected parliament members of both the People's Assembly and the Shura Council.

Parliamentary speaker Mohamed Saad El-Katatni  of the Freedom and Justice Party commenced the session with an opening speech where he criticised the recent developments in the controversial non-governmental organisation (NGO) lawsuit.

43 Egyptian and US NGO workers face trial after the Egyptian government accused them of receiving illegal foreign funding.

Sixteen of the 43 people facing charges in the NGO case are US citizens.

13 US citizens and seven other foreign nationals, all indicted by Egyptian courts, departed Egypt on a US military plane on Thursday amidst public fury over possible breaching of the country's judiciary and sovereignty.

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