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Salafist MP plays down conflict between Egypt's parliament, government

Ongoing differences between parliament, government to be resolved 'shortly,' says Deputy Parliament Speaker Ashraf Thabet

Ahram Online, Sunday 6 May 2012
Ashraf Thabet
MP Ashraf Thabet
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Salafist Nour Party MP and Deputy Parliament Speaker Ashraf Thabet on Sunday dismissed the existence of serious conflict between Egypt’s government and parliament, stressing that any outstanding problems between the two would be resolved “very shortly.”

Thabet's statements to the media came following a meeting between a delegation of 10 MPs and Chief of Staff Sami Anan, deputy chief of Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), convened earlier the same day.

The Sunday meeting was attended by a parliamentary delegation headed by Parliament Speaker and Freedom and Justice Party MP Saad El-Katatni and including his two deputies and representatives of seven political parties. Meeting participants reportedly discussed ongoing differences between Egypt’s Islamist-dominated parliament and the incumbent government of Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzouri.

Thabet added that, during the meeting, it was agreed that the government would present the new state budget within days. He also confirmed that Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Fayza Abul-Naga was currently meeting with the finance minister for this purpose.

Thabet went on to stress his disapproval of a parliamentary proposal to withdraw confidence from the El-Ganzouri government.

Last week, El-Katatni announced the suspension of all scheduled sessions of the People's Assembly (the lower house of Egypt's parliament) until 6 May to protest the continuance of the El-Ganzouri Cabinet against the wishes of the parliamentary majority. 

On 24 April, the People's Assembly voted to reject the government's economic and political programme, stopping short, however, of taking any concrete steps towards withdrawing confidence from the Cabinet. According to last year's constitutional declaration, only the SCAF – not Egypt's Parliament – has the authority to withdraw confidence from the government. 

The El-Ganzouri government's fate is only part of the ongoing dispute between the ruling SCAF and the Muslim Brotherhood, which has escalated lately, with both sides issuing statements against one another. 

The Brotherhood's FJP has been demanding for weeks that the SCAF dismiss the El-Ganzouri government to allow the parliamentary majority to draw up a new one. The military council, however, has continued to reject the demand. 

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