Egyptian parliamentary delegation to visit ‎North Sinai despite security concerns

Gamal Essam El-Din , Sunday 20 Mar 2016

An Egyptian parliamentary delegation will head to ‎North Sinai to review the security situation and the ‎living conditions of citizens

An Egyptian military vehicle is seen on the highway in northern Sinai, Egypt, in this May 25, 2015 file photo (Reuters)

Soliman Wahdan, deputy speaker of Egypt's ‎parliament, told reporters Sunday that he will be at ‎the helm of a parliamentary delegation that will ‎visit North Sinai "soon". 

"We will head to North Sinai ‎very soon to review security and living conditions ‎there because this is part of parliament's job,” Wahdan said. “We ‎have to be there on the ground to see what is really ‎going on in this part of Egypt."‎

In a plenary session two weeks ago, Egypt's ‎parliament – the House of Representatives – ‎approved three parliamentary delegation ‎visits to five border governorates: North and South ‎Sinai, Marsa Matruh, Aswan and the Red Sea. ‎

Wahdan said the visit to North Sinai will come only ‎after this governorate's deputies in parliament give ‎their own assessment of the security and living ‎conditions there.

"A hearing session will be held first ‎for those deputies to give us a comprehensive ‎review of conditions in North Sinai," said Wahdan.‎

Parliament's secretariat-general told MPs last week ‎that the visit to North Sinai would be postponed ‎upon the request of the interior ministry.

"The ‎ministry said comprehensive security arrangements should be ‎taken first to guarantee that MPs conduct a ‎successful visit to North Sinai," the parliament's ‎secretariat-general said in statement.‎‎ "As a result, the visit would be postponed until all the ‎necessary security measures are taken."‎

Salama Al-Roqie, an MP for North Sinai, told ‎reporters that the recent spike in terrorist activities in the governorate, especially near the capital El-Arish and ‎the border crossing town of Rafah, forced the ‎interior ministry to postpone the parliamentary visit.

‎‎"Now we are currently coordinating with security ‎forces and the army to guarantee that the ‎parliamentary delegation's visit to North Sinai be ‎conducted as soon as possible, and that it also include ‎the most restive parts," said Al-Roqaie.‎

Al-Roqaie, an MP affiliated with the ‘Support Egypt’ ‎parliamentary bloc, indicated that "until the security ‎arrangements for the visit are completed, we probe ‎the possibility of inviting heads of the main Bedouin ‎tribes and government officials in North Sinai to ‎come to parliament to give their evaluation of the ‎situation there."‎

In a statement on Sunday, the parliament strongly ‎condemned the “heinous attacks” that led to the ‎death of 18 Egyptian policemen in ‎North Sinai on Saturday.

"They were killed while they were ‎performing their duty in safeguarding our country's ‎homeland," said a parliamentary statement.‎

It stressed that parliament is keen that its legislative ‎powers be used in launching a comprehensive ‎campaign against terrorists, their movements and ‎sources of funding.

"We and the state authorities ‎must be one heart in confronting this big danger ‎that has become a threat to the world," said the ‎statement.‎

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