Former head of Constitutional Court elected as speaker of Egypt's Senate with 287 out of 300 votes

Gamal Essam El-Din , Sunday 18 Oct 2020

Bahaa Eldeen Abou Shoqa, former leader of the Wafd Party, as well as Phoebe Fawzy, a member of the Republican People's Party, were elected as deputies to the speaker

Abdel-Wahab Abdel-Razek
Former head of the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) Abdel-Wahab Abdel-Razek (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Abdel-Wahab Abdel-Razek, the former head of the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC), assumed on Sunday the position of speaker of Egypt's newly-elected Senate.

Abdel-Razek, 73, won unopposed as he was the only one who ran for the office. He will be chairman of the Senate for five years. Abdel-Razek received 287 out of 300 votes.

Abdel-Razek first introduced himself to the Senate members in an opening meeting by saying "it is a great honour for me to run for the post of chairman of the Senate."

"My name is Abdel-Wahab Abdel-Razek. I was a former head of the Supreme Constitutional Court and I spent a long time serving in all sectors of Egypt's judicial system. It is up to you to decide in the end," said Abdel-Razek.

A five-member committee led by Sameh Ashour, the former head of the Syndicate of Lawyers and an appointed senator, supervised the election of Abdel-Razek in a secret ballot at El-Dostour (the constitution) hall.

"It is a great honour to conclude my judicial and political career with this election," said Abdel-Razek, adding that his election “comes at a time when President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi is rebuilding Egypt after it was about to collapse due to the foolishness of some its sons."

"But God protected Egypt and right now we have a courageous leader who is doing his best to steer the country to safe shores," said Abdel-Razek.

After reviewing the roles and responsibilities of the Senate, Abdel-Razek said he is sure that the newly-elected senators will do their job with complete enthusiasm, and sparing no efforts in pushing democracy forward.

Abdel-Razek's political career began when he was chosen as head of Mostaqbal Watan (Future of the Homeland), parliament’s majority party, in March 2019. In a statement at the time, the party said it chose Abdel-Razek as its new chairman following a meeting of the party’s political bureau.

"Abdel-Razek has an honourable history of legislative, constitutional and political performance and the fact that he is selected chairman of the party will give the party a lot of prestige," Mostaqbal Watan said.

Abdel-Razek was head of Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court from 2016 to 2018.

When he was a member of the court’s panel of commissioners, he voted in favour of dissolving the 2012 parliament, widely known as the parliament of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists. During this period, the court issued rulings in favour of invalidating the amendment of the exercise of the political rights law, which was approved by the Brotherhood-dominated parliament in 2012 to politically disenfranchise officials of former president Hosni Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP).

Abdel-Razek was also a member of the Presidential Election Committee that supervised the 2014 presidential election, which was swept up by President El-Sisi.

Mostaqbal Watan, founded in 2014, achieved a landslide victory in the Senate election held last August and September. The party received 147 seats (74 percent).

The election of Abdel-Razek came during the Senate's opening meeting on Sunday. The meeting was first headed by Galal Haridi, head of the Guardians of the Nation Party, in his capacity as the most senior senator. The Senate's 300 members got down to business by taking the constitutional oath and then moved to elect a chairman and two deputies.

The new upper parliament chamber also elected Bahaa Eldeen Abou Shoqa, former leader of the Wafd Party and current chairman of the Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee in parliament’s lower chamber, as first deputy to the speaker, as well as Phoebe Fawzy, a member of the Republican People's Party, as second deputy, making her the first-ever Coptic representaive and woman to serve as deputy in parliament.

Another two senators contested Abou Shoqa and Fawzy for the two seats: Randa Mohamed, an appointed member, and Ayman Abdel-Mohsen, another appointed member.

The number of senators who voted for the deputy positions was 294, with 13 invalid votes.

Abou Shoqa won 255 votes, while Fawzy received 199 votes.The Senate comprises 200 elected members and 100 appointed members.

The Senate, an advisory council, will be consulted on constitutional amendments, laws, and development plans.

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