Egypt MPs shelve plans to pull confidence from El-Ganzouri govt
Ahram Online, Tuesday 13 Mar 2012
Vote of no-confidence in El-Ganzouri govt no longer appears to top parliamentary agenda after talks with ruling military council; Islamist MPs are divided on 'need for stability ahead of looming presidential race'


Plans to issue a vote of no-confidence in the incumbent government of Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzouri seem to have been dropped – at least for now – with members of the People's Assembly (the lower house of Egypt's parliament) failing to raise the issue in Tuesday's parliamentary session.

MPs, however, especially those from the Islamist current, remain adamant that El-Ganzouri's interim cabinet – appointed late last year by Egypt's ruling military council – should be dissolved.

On Sunday evening, MPs initiated procedures for a vote of no-confidence in the government, prompting seven government ministers in attendance to walk out of the assembly. The subsequent session ended after only a few minutes.

Later the same day, leading MPs held a closed-door meeting to discuss the situation, after having held talks with members of the government and military, flagship state daily Ahram reported on Tuesday. The talks were reportedly attended by People's Assembly Speaker Saad El-Katatni of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party.

Meeting participants reportedly agreed on the need to avoid any political instability in the run-up to Egypt's first post-Mubarak presidential election, slated for 23 and 24 May.

While MPs did not formally revoke their earlier decision to demand the dissolution of the El-Ganzouri cabinet, they nevertheless decided to indefinitely postpone procedures for a no-confidence vote.

According to the constitutional declaration issued one year ago by the ruling military council, the People's Assembly is entitled to recommend the government's dissolution. Such a recommendation, however, cannot be implemented without the council's explicit approval.

The ruling military council has repeatedly stressed its opposition to calls by the Muslim Brotherhood to dissolve the government. Government ministers, meanwhile, have said they have no intention to leave prematurely.

Notably, the confidence issue was largely ignored in Monday's session of parliament, despite a torrent of criticism aimed at Agriculture Minister Reda Ismail due to the recent proliferation of foot-and-mouth disease in Egypt.

Following Monday's session, Yossri Hamad, spokesman for the Salafist Nour Party (which controls the second largest bloc in parliament), said his party was still in talks with other parties "to decide on a position vis-a-vis the proposed vote of no-confidence."

"This government has failed to deal adequately with national issues of critical importance," Hamad said. "Nevertheless, the Nour Party believes now is not the right time to dissolve it, because its existence is critical to the drafting of a new constitution and upcoming presidential elections."

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