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Saturday, 24 October 2020

Egypt's newly-elected Senate to hold procedural opening session Sunday

The meeting will be headed by Galal Haridi, 91, a co-founder of the Guardians of the Nation Party, in his capacity as the Senate's most senior member

Gamal Essam El-Din , Sunday 18 Oct 2020
Shura Council
Shura Council
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Following its election in August and September, Egypt's Senate will get down to business on Sunday by holding an opening procedural meeting.

The meeting will be headed by Galal Haridi, a co-founder of the Guardians of the Nation Party, in his capacity as the Senate's most senior member.

Two young members will also join Haridi in running the opening meeting.

Haridi, 91, is a retired army officer who is widely considered as the founder of the Egyptian commandoes in 1955. He cofounded the Guardians of the Nation Party in 2013.

The Senate's opening meeting will begin with reading out a number of decrees related to the formation of the second chamber. These will include president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi's two decrees on the Senate holding its opening meeting on 18 October and the naming of 100 appointees.

The decrees issued by the National Elections Authority (NEA) on the invitation to and the results of the election of the Senate in August and September will be also read out.

The above procedures will be followed by each of the chamber's 300 members taking the constitutional oath: "I swear by Almighty God that I do my best to preserve the republican system, respect the constitution and laws, fully observe the interests of the people, and preserve the independence, unity and integrity of the homeland."

Members will then move to the next step, that is electing a speaker and two deputies in a secret ballot in line with article 4 of the Senate's law (141/2020). All members have the right to run for the three posts. Each hopeful candidate should take the floor and deliver a brief statement about his political background and experience and why he/she wishes to win the post.

The Senate's opening meeting will be held at the headquarters of the Shura Council which was dissolved in 2013.

Informed sources said the Mostaqbal Watan party, which holds the majority of seats in the Senate, is expected to nominate its head Abdel-Wahab Abdel-Razek, a former chairman of the Supreme Constitutional Court, as the speaker of the Senate.

Mahmoud Ismail Othman, the Senate's acting secretary-general, told reporters that once a speaker and two deputies are elected, a committee will be formed to draft the chamber's internal bylaws. "But right now, the internal bylaws of the House of the Representatives (law 1/2016) will be used to regulate the performance of the Senate," said Othman, adding that "it is the internal bylaws which will determine how many committees will be affiliated with the Senate."

Once elected, the Senate's Speaker address the chamber, then will give the floor to Alaa Fouad, minister of state for parliamentary affairs, to congratulate members and express the government's intent to fully cooperate with the Senate in legislative and supervisory terms. Leading members representing political parties and independents are also expected to take the floor to deliver statements on the roles of the Senate.

Informed sources said once the procedural session is finished, the Senate will adjourn until a new House of Representatives is elected at the end of December.

Othman also indicated that all anti-coronavirus protection measures such sanitizing the chamber will be taken. Othman revealed that the Senate's secretariat-general will have 523 staff members who will be in charge of running the daily affairs of the chamber.

According to Egypt's amended constitution in 2019, a 300-seat Senate shall be elected, with 100 members to be elected via the individual candidacy system; another 100 through party lists; and the remaining 100 to be appointed by the president of the republic.

The Senate's law states that the chamber's main job is purely advisory – that is proposing and studying all that can reinforce democracy, social peace, human rights and public freedoms. The Senate should be consulted on proposed amendments to the constitution, the state's five-year development plans, alliance and peace treaties and laws which form an integral part of the constitution.

Statistics on the Senate's election show that the pro-government Mostaqbal Watan party got the majority, with 147 seats (74 per cent). Independents come next with 85 seats. The People's Republican party got 19 seats, followed by Al-Wafd (11 seats); the Guardians of the Nation (10 seats); the leftist El-Tagammu (4 seats) and Modern Egypt (4 seats).

Three political parties - the Egyptian Socialist Democratic Party, the Reform and Development Party, and the National Movement Party – got each three seats. The Salafist party of El-Nour got two seats.

Five political parties – the Egyptian Freedom, Justice, the Republican, the Will of the Nation and Democratic Sadat – got each one seat.

Statistics also show that the Senate comprises 40 women (20 by election and 20 by appointment) (13.3 per cent), six members representing professional syndicates and trade unions, two judges, two cinema actors, nine media people, 14 young people, 16 public figures, and twelve chairmen of political parties.

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