Egypt's parliament temporarily bans airing of sessions 'to prevent grandstanding' by some MPs

Ahram Online , Tuesday 12 Jan 2016

The temporary ban on TV coverage does not extend to other reporters

Members of Egypt's Parliament attend the inaugural session, the first to convene in three years, in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016 (AP)

Egypt's new House of Representatives decided late on Monday to temporarily ban the live airing of its sessions until it finishes discussing the laws issued since July 2013 by the executive power as mandated by the 2014 constitution.

The decision came after the majority of MPs agreed to a proposal submitted by 40 members to stop TV coverage in order to prevent grandstanding by some MPs.

"This live airing gave comfort to some MPs, who think they have a monopoly on ideas, to put on show their false interpretations of bylaws," the parliament's speaker Ali Abdel-Al said.

Abdel-Al said journalists would be able to continue to conduct their work covering the sessions, rejecting proposals by some MPs to ban all coverage.

The ban order was criticised by a number of representatives and other public figures.

Leftist MP Haytham El-Hariry from Alexandria wrote on his Facebook page "The people have the right to follow the performance of their representatives and of the parliament's speaker."

In an interview on Al-Ghad Al-Araby TV channel, the head of the Regional Center for Political and Strategic Studies Abdel-Moneim Said – also a well known journalist -- called upon the parliament to air its sessions, stressing on the importance of honouring the principle of transparency. 

A dispute preceded the decision

The decision to ban the live coverage comes following a heated dispute between MPs on how to deal with 340 laws issued since July 2013 by interim president Adly Mansour (2013-2014) and current president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi (2014-present). 

Many MPs objected to an initial unilateral decision by the speaker who appointed certain members to five committees to review general laws and one to revise parliament bylaws.

MP Khaled Youssef, a movie director, questioned the decision to exclude representatives of the left on one economic committee for social justice considerations.

MP Seri Siam, for example, argued that the traditional parliamentary specialised committees -- not five -- should be formed to study the outstanding issues, arguing that the speaker has committed a violation with his decision.

Arguments ended with an agreement by MPs and the speaker to form the 19 committees to review the laws, issue a report, and send an opinion back to the floor by 9 AM Saturday.

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