Egypt's President Sisi to address new ‎parliament next week

Gamal Essam El-Din , Wednesday 10 Feb 2016

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is expected ‎to deliver a keynote speech before the country's ‎newly-elected parliament, foreign ambassadors, and religious dignitaries

Egypt's President Sisi (Reuters)

Parliamentary sources told reporters Wednesday ‎that Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi will address ‎the country's newly-elected House of Representatives for the first time next week.

El-Sisi is expected to address a wide array of domestic and regional ‎issues, including the current economic situation.‎

Sources told Ahram Online that El-Sisi's visit is expected to be on ‎Sunday or Monday.

Egypt's parliament will hold a plenary ‎session Saturday to discuss a number of ‎controversial issues, including a draft of the House's new by-laws and code of ‎conduct, as well as another resignation ‎request submitted by appointed MP and former ‎high-profile judge Sirri Siam.‎

The parliament building in Downtown Cairo has ‎been under tight security since Tuesday ‎in preparation for El-Sisi's visit, which will be the ‎first since he took office in ‎June 2014. ‎

Parliament's secretary-general Ahmed Saaddin told reporters that ‎‎the presidential Republican Guard took control of ‎the parliament building to implement final security ‎measures before El-Sisi's visit.

"This is a routine ‎measure and all parliamentary staff on this day ‎will be on duty," said Saaddin.‎

Saaddin also added that a number of foreign ‎guests, primarily ambassadors of foreign countries ‎and speakers of a number of Arab parliaments, would also be invited to attend the speech. 

He said that Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and 34 ‎other cabinet ministers, the grand sheikh of Al-Azhar, ‎and the pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church would also attend.‎

Egypt's new parliament is composed of 596 MPs, an unprecedented figure in Egypt's 150-year-old ‎parliamentary history.

"This big number, in ‎addition to more than 100 guests, will push the ‎number attending the speech to more than 700," said ‎Saaddin.‎

The last time an Egyptian president visited ‎parliament was in December 2010 when ousted ‎president Hosni Mubarak addressed a newly-elected ‎People's Assembly which was voted in a process marred by widespread rigging fraud by the then-ruling party, the NDP.  ‎

In this speech, Mubarak ridiculed some political ‎figures who decided to form a parallel parliament in protest against rigging practices, saying, "Let them have fun."‎

The assembly, which was dominated by ‎Mubarak's now defunct ruling National Democratic ‎Party (NDP), was dissolved two months later, after ‎Mubarak was deposed from office in February ‎‎2011.‎

According to Article 150 of the 2014 Constitution, ‎the president of the republic may, if he chooses, delivers a public speech before parliament after its ‎inaugural session.‎

After El-Sisi's speech and after parliament's new ‎by-laws are endorsed and its new committees are ‎formed, the government of Prime Minister Sherif ‎Ismail will be required to deliver its policy ‎statement before the House.

According to Article ‎‎146, the government's policy statement must gain ‎the confidence of the majority of MPs within 30 days. If it loses the confidence vote, the ‎president will entrust a parliamentary coalition ‎to form an alternative government. If this ‎coalition failed to gain the confidence of the ‎majority of MPs, parliament would be considered ‎dissolved and the country would be invited to elect a ‎new parliament.‎

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail told a business ‎conference in Dubai Tuesday that his policy ‎statement will focus on three ‎challenges: reinforcing internal stability, achieving ‎social justice, and completing Egypt's democratic ‎transition.‎

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