Egypt's parliament receives thousands of Whatsapp messaged grievances

Ahram Online , Thursday 28 Jan 2016

The service was launched earlier this week to 'boost communication with the public and bolster the parliament's transparency'

Members of Egypt's Parliament Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016 (AP)

Egyptians have sent around 5,000 Whatsapp messages of suggestions and grievances to the country's newly-elected parliament in the first days following the release of the number.

On Saturday, the parliament’s secretary general provided a new phone number specifically for the messaging service to receive messages from citizens with the aim of "boosting communication with the public...and bolstering the parliament's transparency."

In the first two days after the service was launched, the chamber received 3,629 messages that have mainly addressed legislative and supervisory issues as well as social grievances, the parliament said on its official website.

Over 1000 messages were sent on the third day, it said on Wednesday.

A controversial civil service law that the chamber has recently rejected came first among the issues tackled in the messages.

The bill, endorsed early in 2015, sparked widespread controversy as critics fear it could dramatically trim down Egypt's bloated public workforce of over six million employees.

Last week, the chamber voted down the bill as part of a constitutional two-week review of a slew of laws passed in its absence.

Other key issues the messages covered included demands for raising minimum pensions and modifications to a law on the old system of extended leasing of apartments.

Egypt's new parliament was elected in a six-week poll in November and December of last year, three years after an old Islamist-dominated chamber was dissolved by a court ruling. The chamber has 568 elected members plus another 28 appointed by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

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