Egyptian opposition MPs say parliament must respect court ruling on Tiran and Sanafir

Ahram Online , Monday 16 Jan 2017

The High Administrative Court rejected on Monday an appeal by the government against voiding the Egyptian-Saudi Red Sea island deal; pro-government Support Egypt block vows to continue discussing the matter in Parliament

Ghattas and Sadat
Egyptian MPs Samir Ghattas (L) and Anwar Sadat (R)

A bloc of Egyptian MPs welcomed a High Administrative Court verdict on Monday that upheld a June decision by an administrative court which voided the April 2016 Egyptian-Saudi Red Sea island deal.

The opposition 25/30 bloc said that the parliament does not now have the right to discuss the controversial maritime re-demarcation deal, which would hand the two Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudia Arabia, and called on state institutions to respect the court ruling.

In a short statement issued on Monday afternoon, the bloc described today's court ruling as "a death sentence" that ended the deal forever.

The bloc also demanded the release of protesters who were recently arrested for demonstrating against the deal.

The cabinet had referred on 1 January the agreement on the two Red Sea islands to parliament for voting.

Parliament has not yet voted on the deal.

In a statement to journalists following today's ruling, the head of the parliament's committee for legislative and constitutional affairs, MP Bahaaeddin Abu Shoqa, said that the House of Representatives would continue to discuss the deal and has the final say on the matter.

Independent MP Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat urged the parliament not to discuss the demarcation deal to avoid "a clash between the legislative and judicial branches."

"This is a final verdict that should be respected," El-Sadat said in a statement he issued hours following the court’s decision.

El-Sadat also called on the Egyptian government to respect the "public will" and "the judicial rulings" as well as to "stop challenging the verdict in front the Supreme Constitutional Court."

"The Egyptian government should also re-open a dialogue with Saudi Arabia about the two islands."

He said also invited fellow MPs to go to Tiran and Sanafir to raise the Egyptian flag.

Leftist MP Samir Ghattas slammed Monday statements from the pro-government majority Support Egypt bloc that said parliament would continue to discuss the deal, insisting that parliament has the final say on the matter in spite of the court ruling.

"The [Support Egypt] bloc do not respect the constitution because if they do they would have rejected the [2016] IMF loan deal, which did not pass first through the House of Representatives in accordance to article 127 of the Constitution," Ghattas told Ahram Arabic news website.

"Those MPs used to say that we should wait until the court's verdict and when the High Administrative Court issued its decision, they then said that the verdict is a judicial encroachment on the House of Representatives' powers," MP Ghattas said.

"Our patriotism is being tested -- all Egyptians approve of the High Administrative Court's verdict and not just MPs," he added.

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