Parliamentry speaker Saad El Katatni (Photo: Reuters)
Parliamentary speaker Saad El-Katatni on Sunday announced the suspension of all scheduled sessions of the People's Assembly – the lower house of Egypt's parliament – until 6 May to protest the continuance of the government of Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzouri against the wishes of the parliamentary majority.
In Sunday's session, El-Katatni stated that there was "nothing personal" between the People's Assembly and the government, stressing that the former was simply "doing its job" by monitoring the latter's performance – which it found to be "unsatisfactory."
He added, however, that assembly members were aware from the start of their "constitutional limitations," noting that they had refrained from taking steps towards withdrawing confidence from El-Ganzouri's government.
El-Katatni went on to stress that Egypt's current parliamentary assembly was the first to be freely chosen by the Egyptian popular will. "As assembly head, it's my responsibility to maintain the assembly's dignity," he declared, going on to accuse the government of "fabricating crises to hinder the assembly's performance."
Last month, El-Katatni called on the parliamentary committee tasked with evaluating the government's first official report -- delivered by El-Ganzouri to parliament on 26 February -- to refer its findings to the general body. The committee's report concluded that all 19 committees of the People's Assembly unanimously rejected El-Ganzouri's statement, citing a large "gap between the recommendations and visions of the MPs and what the government has offered."
On 24 April, the People's Assembly voted to reject the government's economic and political programme, stopping short, however, of taking any concrete steps towards withdrawing confidence from the Cabinet. According to last year's constitutional declaration, only the SCAF – not Egypt's Parliament – enjoys the authority to withdraw confidence from the incumbent government.
The El-Ganzouri government's fate is only part of the ongoing dispute between the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the Muslim Brotherhood, which has escalated lately, with both sides issuing statements against one another.
The Muslim Brotherhood's FJP has been demanding for several weeks that the parliamentary majority be allowed to form a government and that the SCAF dismiss the El-Ganzouri government. The military council, however, has publicly dismissed these demands.