Mahmoud Ismail, the secretary-general of Egypt's Senate, told reporters this week that the 300-member chamber will meet on Sunday to discuss a draft copy of the internal bylaws that will regulate its proceedings. "An ad hoc committee finished drafting the 293-article bylaws and each member was handed a copy to study it before it is put up for discussion on Sunday," said Othman.
He added the Senate will comprise 14 committees covering all fields and activities in Egypt. "Article 38, however, states that more committees can be created when the need arises," said Ismail.
The Senate will have committees on Constitutional and Legislative Affairs; Foreign, Arabic and African Relations; Defence and National Security; and Human Rights and Social Solidarity.
In business, the Senate will have committees on Financial, Economic and Investments Affairs; Industry and Trade; Energy, Environment and Manpower; Housing and Local Administration; and Transport.
Besides, there will be committees on Education, Youth and Sports; Health and Population; Agriculture and Irrigation; Culture, Media, Tourism and Antiquities; and Religious and Wakf (endowments) Affairs.
An Ethics Committee, headed by one of the speaker's two deputies and including chairmen of the 14 committees, will be formed.
The first three articles of the Senate's bylaws are focused on outlining its major roles in Egypt's political life. "In drafting this group of articles, the bylaws were clear in indicating that the Senate does not have legislative powers, and by this we
mean that unlike MPs at the House of Representatives, members of the Senate can't propose or draft laws," said Ismail.
Article 1 states that the Senate is one of Egypt's two parliamentary chambers, exercising its role in line with the constitution and in cooperation with the House of Representatives.
The draft internal bylaws also state that the Senate members will be just allowed to give their views on a number of issues, such as the amendment of the articles of the constitution; the annual socio-economic development plans; the alliance, reconciliation and sovereignty treaties with foreign countries; and draft laws referred by the president and House of Representatives.
Political analyst and appointed member in the Senate Abdel-Moneim Said told reporters the Senate will be just an advisory chamber, acting like a consultancy office or a political think tank for the president and the House of the Representatives.
"Senate members will be also required to uphold the principles of political competitiveness, mutual acceptance, women and youth empowerment, and supporting the principles of citizenship, social justice, freedom of expression, and fighting all forms of organised crime, particularly terrorism, as well as racial discrimination, tribal conflicts and sectarian strife," he added.
Ismail said the ad hoc committee which took charge of drafting the Senate's internal bylaws included 30 members. "It was headed by Senate Speaker Abdel-Wahab Abdel-Razek and his two deputies Bahaeddin Abu Shoka and Phoebe Fawzi," said Ismail.
Article 14 states that the Senate speaker or any of his deputies can't stay in office for more than two terms, each spanning five years.
The Senate's Internal bylaws (articles 107-119) state that members will have some supervisory powers such as directing questions that must be answered by cabinet ministers; opening a public debate on a certain government policy; and submitting and directing proposals to the prime minister.
Meanwhile, articles 225-229 state that Senate members have full parliamentary immunity and that legal measures against any of them can be taken only upon the Senate's approval. Article 225, however, states that a Senate member can be arrested if he was caught red-handed.
Ismail indicated that the discussion of the Senate's proposed internal bylaws may finish in one or more meetings. "But once approved, they will be referred to the House of Representatives to be discussed and passed to be finally enacted into law," said Ismail.