Egyptian parliament to debate press law changes on Sunday

Gamal Essam El-Din , Gamal Essam El-Din , Saturday 16 Jul 2016

Egypt’s parliament is expected to discuss a controversial amendment to the press law, as well as a recent alleged police assault on an MP


A legislative amendment that grants Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi the right to reshuffle the High Press Council is expected to be discussed at a plenary session of parliament on Sunday.

According to parliament's written schedule of debates, the amendment, which was proposed by independent MP and journalist Mostafa Bakri and approved by 342 other MPs, will be discussed on Sunday.

The press law amendment was passed by parliament’s media, culture and antiquities committee at a meeting held on 14 June. The amendment would change Article 86 of the press law (Law no. 96 of 1996) to allow the president to issue a decree that gives him the power to appoint a High Press Council until a new unified law on the regulation of the press and media is passed by parliament.

The amendment states that the new 15-member council will have the same powers that were granted to the now-defunct Shura Council, and will also name new editors and chairmen of the boards of state-run press organisations.

A report by parliament’s media committee argued that the new amendment is an important and necessary measure because the legal term of the current High Press Council, which has been in charge of naming editors and board chairmen of national press organisations since July 2013, expired last month.

“In spite of this fact, this illegal council gave itself an illegal right to allow board chairmen of some national press organisations to stay in office for an indefinite period, although for some of their legal terms expired in January and others in June,” the report said.

The report by the media committee also said that because the current High Press Council has the legal right to name new editors and board chairmen, Bakri’s legislative amendment has become a necessity.

“The new media and press regulation laws, which are currently being revised by the State Council, will also take some time in parliament to be discussed and passed, and as a result this legislative amendment is important to help national press organisations perform their job under legal leadership,” the report added.

Parliament will also set on Sunday a date for discussing two questions that must be answered by concerned cabinet ministers on the high school exam leaks. MPs Mohamed Abdel-Ghani and Mohamed El-Husseini have accused Minister of Education El-Hilali El-Sherbini of failing to have a coherent strategy that could prevent the leak of exam papers via the internet, and ask that El-Sherbini be fired from his position.

Parliament will also see a final vote Sunday on two laws related to cancelling the government's decision whether to adopt daylight savings time at the end of the month of Ramdan, and regulating the performance of trade unions.

Parliament will also review new amendments to the controversial civil service law.

The law, which proposed major reforms to the civil service, was rejected by MPs in January who believed it would affect government employees unfairly. The new civil service law amendments are expected to be discussed on Sunday and Monday, but some leftist MPs vow that they will vote against the new version.

Parliament is also expected to discuss a report made by deputy speaker El-Sayed El-Sherif on Sunday on a recent clash between MP Zeinab Salem and two police officers in east Cairo's police station of Nasr City. Salem accuses the two police officers of assaulting her. 

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