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Egypt parliament holds minister of interior accountable for Port Said disaster

In extraordinary session of People's Assembly Thursday, MPs accuse interior ministry of failing to stop Wednesday's Port Said football violence, dispatch a fact-finding committee to the Canal Suez city

Zeinab El Gundy, Thursday 2 Feb 2012
Kamal el-Ganzouri
Egypt's Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim (R) sits next to Prime Minister Kamal el-Ganzouri (C) at an emergency working session in the Egyptian parliament in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, 2 February 2012. (Photo: AP)

Parliament convened an extraordinary session on Thursday to discuss Wednesday's football violence in Port Said. The session was attended by both Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzouri and Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim.

After a brief statement by El-Ganzouri in which he expressed his sorrow for the violence and asserted that the government had acted swiftly in the wake of the incident – accepting resignations from the Port Said governor and security director and the board of the Egyptian Football Association – MPs representing Port Said described Wednesday's events as a "plot" to promote chaos and fear.

Parliament's youth and national security committees blamed the interior ministry for the security failure, calling for his dismissal and that of Egypt's public prosecutor. They also demanded a speedy trial for ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his ministers, along with the prosecution of Masry football club officials, the Port Said governor and Port Said's security director.

Several MPs also demanded the dismissal of the interior minister and a major overhaul of the interior ministry, which they blamed for Wednesday's football clashes.

Several other MPs – including Amr Hamzawy, Mostafa El-Naggar, Mohamed Abu Hamed and Abu Ezz El-Hariri – accused Egypt's ruling military council of being responsible for the violence, demanding that it hand over power to a civilian authority as soon as possible.

MP Essam Sultan of the moderate-Islamist Wasat Party, for his part, demanded that military council members responsible for domestic security be questioned over the incident. Several MPs also accused former regime officials, currently imprisoned in Tora Prison, of involvement in the incident.

MP Essam El-Arian of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and head of parliament's foreign affairs committee stated that more than 143 parliamentarians had demand that the interior minister be questioned before parliament.

MP Gamal Heshmat of the FJP, meanwhile, demanded that a civilian be appointed interior minister.

Independent MP Mostafa Bakry, for his part, declared that what happened in Port Said had been the work of the US and Israel.

The session concluded with a decision to dispatch a parliamentary fact-finding committee to investigate Wednesday's Port Said violence. The committee is expected to present its final report on the incident to parliament within one week.

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