A number of high-profile figures who won seats in Egypt's recent parliamentary elections announced Tuesday that they are in negotiations to form a majority parliamentary bloc aimed at defending the policies of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.
Negotiations are under way with a number of political parties and independent MPs to form a parliamentary bloc titled the ‘Pro-Egyptian State Coalition’, according to Sameh Seif El-Yazal, a former intelligence officer and the coordinator of the For the Love of Egypt electoral coalition, which won 120 party list seats in the poll.
El-Yazal said in a public announcement that the negotiations have gone a long way with the leaders of three liberal political parties – the Free Egyptians Party, the Future of Homeland and the Wafd – which won the largest number of seats in the poll and which form the backbone of the For the Love of Egypt coalition.
The three parties won 147 seats, or around 30 percent.
El-Yazal indicated that negotiations are also under way with independents so as to bring the pro-Sisi bloc to more than 400 MPs, which would constitute a parliamentary majority with a little over 50 percent.
Informed sources said MPs who agree to join the pro-Egyptian State Coalition will be obliged to document this agreement in signature.
"The intended bloc will act as a back-up force for President El-Sisi and for reinforcing Egypt's political stability in a region plagued with civil wars and sectarian strife," said El-Yazal.
He did, however, stress that the pro-Sisi majority bloc does not aim to turn the House of Representatives into a rubber-stamp parliament.
"We will fully exercise our supervisory powers to defend the interests of ordinary citizens and help improve the performance of government," said El-Yazal.
He also explained that amending the 2014 constitution will not be a top priority for the intended pro-Sisi coalition.
"It is too early to say that amending the 2014 constitution will be a top priority for us because this constitution will have to go into effect for at least two years, and then we will see whether some of its articles need amendment or not," said El-Yazal.
El-Yazal explained that the objective of the coalition is to unify positions of the largest number of MPs over a number of crucial issues such as whether MPs should approve the government's policy statements or not.
A number of newly elected MPs told parliamentary reporters on Tuesday that El-Yazal and others have already approached them for joining the pro-Sisi coalition.
Nashwa El-Deeb, a Nasserist journalist who won a seat in Giza governorate, said she agreed to sign up for the pro-Sisi coalition.
"This, however, does not mean that this is a blank cheque approval for El-Sisi," said El-Deeb, adding that "it simply means joining forces with the president to keep Egypt safe and secure in a volatile region and find solutions for the problems of ordinary citizens."
Mohamed El-Orabi, a former foreign minister, also told reporters that the objective of the Pro-Egyptian State Coalition is to reach a unified agenda of priorities with the president and the government for the coming stage.
"This will by no means negatively affect our legislative and supervisory powers aimed at fighting corruption and improving the everyday life of citizens," said El-Orabi.
Other MPs, however, rejected the idea of forming a pro-Sisi parliamentary bloc.
Mortada Mansour, the flamboyant chairman of the Zamalek Sporting Club who won a seat as an independent in the Nile Delta governorate of Daqahliya, told reporters that "there is no need for such a parliamentary bloc."
"It will look like a new Mubarak-style ruling party with El-Yazal looking like another Ahmed Ezz – a business tycoon who acted as Mubarak's parliamentary whip – but in a different form," said Mansour.
Mansour, however, said he supports El-Sisi not because he is the president, but because of Egypt's current hard conditions.
Ayman Abul-Ela, an MP with the Free Egyptians Party, said most of the victorious MPs are already supportive of the 30 June revolution which put an end to Muslim Brotherhood rule.
"The majority of us are supportive of this revolution and El-Sisi's role in it, and as a result there is no need for forming a pro-Sisi bloc because this could turn parliament into a Mubarak-style rubber stamp body," said Abul-Ela.