Egypt parliament's speaker attacks research centres, ‎dismisses claims of private Facebook account

Gamal Essam El-Din , Monday 30 May 2016

The speaker of Egypt's parliament Ali Abdel-Aal has caused a row ‎after accusing independent research centres of trying to disrupt the country's institutions

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

In a statement on Sunday, the speaker of Egypt's parliament Ali ‎Abdel-Aal dismissed claims that he has a private ‎‎Facebook account.

"The speaker of Egypt's parliament Ali Abdel-‎Aal dismisses claims that he has a private Facebook or ‎Twitter account and that what has been published by some ‎media outlets in this respect is completely unfounded," a ‎statement by the parliament's secretariat-general said on ‎Sunday.‎

‎The statement added that the "speaker of Egypt's parliament has by no means ‎any relation with what was published on these "fake accounts" ‎and that they are not official in nature and only express ‎the opinion of those who created them."‎

The statement also urged media outlets to seek accuracy and ‎credibility when it comes to publishing news about Egypt's House of Representatives.

"Those who fail ‎to adhere to accuracy could face legal action and they should be ‎well aware of this," the statement said.‎

Abdel-Aal, who is currently attending a conference for ‎Mediterranean parliaments in Morocco, also opened a front ‎against what he called "anti-national research centres."

In a ‎plenary session on 22 May, Abdel-Aal accused "some centres" ‎of leading an orderly campaign aimed at disrupting the ‎performance of Egypt's parliament and other state institutions. ‎‎

"These centres organise training courses for MPs to teach them ‎how to disrupt Egypt's legislative authority and demolish other ‎state institutions," said Abdel-Al, adding that "they are part of ‎an orderly foreign campaign against Egypt's parliament and ‎they receive assistance from some at home to disrupt the state's ‎constitutional institutions."‎

Abdel-Aal charged that "some MPs have joined training courses ‎in these research centres without having adequate ‎information about ‘their poisonous intentions.’"

‎‎"I am not trying to raise doubts on the national loyalty of any of ‎the MPs, but I just want to warn them that these centres handle ‎information that pose a big threat to national security and urge ‎MPs to reject the state budget for political interests and is based ‎on incorrect dates," Abdel-Aal said. 

Abdel-Aal warned that MPs who take part in these ‎courses would be referred to the ethics committee.

"I do not ‎want to silence criticism of the state budget and the ‎government's monetary policy in parliament, but I warn MPs ‎who might use "incorrect information" about the monetary policy to ‎disrupt the state's institutions," Abdel-Al said.‎

Abdel-Aal said he has "a complete dossier" about the research ‎centres which organise training courses that target the country's ‎national security.

"The house's secretariat-general will ‎announce the complete list of these centres in due time," said ‎Abdel-Al, explaining that parliament's special training centres ‎will give MPs all the courses necessary to help them review the ‎budget and analyse its items.‎

Parliament's secretariat-general announced that a large number of ‎MPs attended a two-day training workshop on "the state budget ‎and balance sheet."

"A number of high-profile economists like ‎Osman Mohamed Osman, a former minister of planning, gave ‎lectures to a significant number of MPs on 25 and 26 May on how to ‎make a critical review of the state budget and balance sheet," ‎parliament's secretariat-general said.‎

Abdel-Aal's attack against "research centres" has caused mixed ‎reactions among MPs.

Taher Abu Zeid, an independent MP and ‎a former minister of sports, said "he agrees with Abdel-Aal that ‎some MPs have joined "well-paid" courses from some research ‎centres and it is highly dangerous that these centres use ‎‎"incorrect information" and urge MPs to reject the state budget ‎for political reasons."

Abu Zeid cited Abdel-Al as telling him ‎that "some foreign centres have invited a number of MPs to travel ‎abroad and take courses that imperil Egypt's national security ‎and that he would not forgive this."‎

By contrast, Haitham Al-Hariri, a leftist MP, told a TV channel ‎that "Abdel-Aal's accusations should be completely rejected."

"Before ‎the speaker opens fire on any MPs, he should first announce the ‎names of "the anti-Egypt centres and the names of MPs who ‎received training in these centres," said Hariri.‎

Al-Hariri said a leftist parliamentary group known by the name ‎of the “25-30 Group” has submitted an official request to Abdel-Al, ‎asking him to disclose the names of "the anti-Egypt centres and ‎the MPs who received training in there."‎

Some MPs, who asked not to be identified, told Ahram ‎Online that "when Abdel-Al was speaking about "research ‎centres" he was meaning Al-Ahram's Centre for Political and ‎Strategic Centres (ACPSS) which organised some training ‎courses for MPs in the Red Sea resort of Ain Al-Sokhna two ‎weeks ago.

MPs also disclosed that Abdel-Aal was up in arms "because one ‎of the professors in these courses was leftist economist Abdel-‎Khaleq Farouk who accused Egypt's new state budget of being biased ‎against the poor."

In a quick reaction to Abdel-Aal's accusations, Diaa Rashwan, ‎the director of the Centre for Political and Strategic ‎Studies, told reporters this week that ACPSS is one of ‎the world's high-profile independent research centres.

"Training ‎courses are a basic part of ACPSS's activity and we just help ‎new MPs on how to review the budget, but never to disrupt state ‎institutions," Rashwan said.‎

‎"I want to make it clear that ACPSS is one of Egypt's state ‎authorities and can never participate in any activity that seeks ‎to disrupt these authorities," Rashwan.‎

Rashwan admitted that ACPSS invited some European and ‎British professors to give training courses to MPs in the area of ‎monetary policy in the Red Sea resort of Ain Sokhna.

"Some ‎‎25 MPs received training in Sokhna, and they were given ‎lectures on how to read the budget and analyse its items in a ‎neutral way," said Rashwan, disclosing that "Abdel-Aal himself ‎received training courses in Al-Ahram Centre before he ‎became the speaker of Egypt's parliament."‎


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