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Saturday, 15 August 2020

A shake-up in Egypt's parliament majority party

Former head of the Supreme Constitutional Court is the new chairman of parliament’s majority party

Gamal Essam El-Din , Friday 20 Mar 2020
Majority party shake-up
Abdel-Razek
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Abdel-Wahab Abdel-Razek, former head of the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC), took over on Sunday as chairman of Mostakbal Watan (the Future of Homeland), parliament’s majority party.

In a 10 March statement, the party said it chose Abdel-Razek as the new chairman of Mostakbal Watan following a meeting of the party’s political bureau. “In the meeting, it was also decided that Ashraf Rashad, the current chairman and head of parliament’s Sports and Youth Committee, will be named first deputy chairman and secretary-general,” the statement said.

“MP Hossam Al-Khouli, who was the party’s secretary-general, will be named second deputy chairman, and Essam Hilal, the party’s secretary for organisational affairs, will be appointed assistant secretary-general,” the statement said, adding that Yehia Essawi will be the party’s new secretary for organisational affairs, Mohamed Al-Garhi, the party’s secretary for youth affairs, Ahmed Sabri, secretary for local councils affairs, and Fakhri Tayel will be secretary for relations with the government.

The party’s statement said the new shake-up ushers the party’s history into a new phase. “The shake-up also reflects a democratic change and paves the way for the party’s future,” the statement said.

The party’s new secretary-general, Hossam Al-Khouli told reporters that the choice of Abdel-Razek came upon the request of the party’s leading officials. “Abdel-Razek has an honourable history of legislative, constitutional and political performance and the fact that he will be the chairman will give the party a lot of prestige,” Al-Khouli said.

Informed sources pointed out the shake-up comes ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for November. “So there will be a new change of the political climate and we think that the choice of judge Abdel-Razek goes in line with this new development,” Al-Khouli said.

Following his selection as party chairman on 10 March, Abdel-Razek held a meeting with the party’s leading officials and members of its central committee. “Mostakbal Watan is Egypt’s leading party and I am happy to be elected as chairman of this party,” said Abdel-Razek, adding that on Sunday he will meet with the party’s officials at the governorate level to review political activities and preparations for the November elections.”

Abdel-Razek, 72, was head of the 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 Salafis.

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 Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi.

The Future of a Homeland Party was founded by a number of businessmen, former judicial officials, former army officers and lawyers in November 2014. As of March 2016 and after winning 57 seats in parliamentary elections, Rashad was named head of the party. In 2018, the party was able to set up a wide network of offices throughout Egypt. As a result, more than 200 MPs joined Mostakbal Watan, swelling its ranks in parliament to 265 MPs (42 per cent) and making it the majority party in the House of Representatives.

In February 2019, Mostakbal Watan used its majority to propose amendments to 12 articles in Egypt’s 2014 constitution, leading to extending the presidential term from four to six years and reinstating the post of vice president and the recreation of the Shura Council, the lower house.

Mostakbal Watan’s rejection of a newly-drafted law regulating local councils also led to suspending its discussion in parliament.

Al-Khouli said Mostakbal Watan was able to become the most influential and active party in Egypt in just two years, between 2017 and 2019. “More than 60 per cent of the party’s leading members are under 35, and some were appointed deputy governors in January,” Al-Khouli said, adding that “the party’s meeting with new chairman Abdel-Wahab Abdel-Razek prepares the ground for contesting three elections in the coming stage: the two elections of the House of Representatives and Shura Council, and the local councils.

“As the biggest party in Egypt now, we aim to field strong candidates, and in the local councils we need to field 30,000 young people as required by the constitution, and we are preparing well for these new developments,” Al-Khouli said.

*A version of this article appears in print in the  19 March, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

 

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