Egypt MPs pass controversial law shielding state deals after earlier rejection

Ahram Online , Wednesday 20 Jan 2016

Upon a governmental recommendation, Egyptian MPs changed their votes and approved a controversial law that shields state contracts from third-party legal challenges

Ali Abdel-Al
Screenshot from State TV of Ali Abel-Al, the parliament speaker

Egypt's parliament passed a law Wednesday barring third-party challenges to state contracts even though it was rejected earlier this week, MP Medhat El-Sherif told Ahram Online on Wednesday.

Law number 32, which was passed in April 2014 under then-interim president Adly Mansour, aims to assure investors that their deals with the Egyptian government would be shielded from lengthy legal disputes incurred by citizens' legal complaints.

The law has caused major controversy since it was passed, with critics alleging that it opens a door to corruption by restricting appeals to the parties involved only; the government and investors.

"We thought that once a law is voted down in the 15-day period [since parliament first convenes] it cannot be put up for another vote… but the parliament speaker said that [taking another vote] is legal, and he is a constitutional expert," said El-Sherif, who is a member of the parliamentary economic affairs committee.

The decision to have another vote was taken based on a government recommendation.

El-Sherif said that parliamentarians who initially voted down the law were convinced to change their vote after the minister of parliamentary affairs clarified the importance of the law and how rejecting it would “negatively impact investment.”

Legal and parliamentary affairs minister Magdy El-Agaty told the assembly that "the government does not protect corruption" with this law, but rather is “claiming its right to protect its deals.”

The vote on the bill comes as part of parliament's review of 341 laws within 15 days as of its first session, which took place last week. This includes laws issued by Mansour and current President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi since the new constitution was passed in January 2014.

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