New parliament cannot vote on state of emergency previously imposed by Sisi: Speaker

Ahram Online , Tuesday 12 Jan 2016

The Speaker of the new Egyptian parliament told members they don't have a constitutional right to vote on North Sinai state of emergency since decision was issued in absence of legislature

Ali Abdelaal
Ali Abdelaal speaks after being elected the speaker of Egypt's parliament during the opening session at the main headquarters of parliament in Cairo, Egypt, January 10, 2016. (Reuters)

Egyptian parliamentary speaker Ali Abdel-Al told MPs that in cases where parliament is not in session, or in the absence of one, the president can pass a measure to impose a state of emergency, then simply inform the parliament once it convenes, adding that MPs in this case do not have a constitutional right to vote on the measure.

On Monday, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi informed parliament that the executive branch had extended a state of emergency in parts of the troubled North Sinai governorate on 27 October.

Abdel-Al's announcement to MPs that they have no right to vote on the October decision angered some MPs, who argued that Article 154 of the 2014 constitution, which regulates legal steps to declare a state of emergency, stipulates that parliament has the right to vote on emergency steps.

However, Abdel-Al's interpretation of Article 154 of the constitution carried the day and no vote was taken.

According to Article 154 of the Egyptian constitution, “the president, after consultations with the cabinet, declares the state of emergency.”

The president's decision must be reviewed by a sitting parliament within seven days of its issuing, the article continues.

Meanwhile, the article adds, once a parliament re-convenes following absence, it has to be notified in its first session by the executive of the decision to declare the state of emergency.

"In all cases, the majority of parliament has to agree on imposing the state of emergency,” the article concludes.

The president’s decision to impose a state of emergency in parts of North Sinai came in October 2014 following a terrorist attack by Islamist insurgents that killed over 30 soldiers.

The decision has since been extended more than once, for a three-month period at a time, in January, April, July, and October of 2015.

Egypt’s newly elected parliament convened on Sunday for the first time in four years and started its preliminary procedural session.

MPs elected a speaker and one of his two deputies on Sunday then voted for the second deputy on Monday.

The parliament will have to review and decide upon all laws issued by El-Sisi and his predecessor, interim president Adly Mansour, within 15 days of convening.

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