Egypt MPs seek to withdraw confidence from minister of supply

Gamal Essam El-Din , Saturday 20 Aug 2016

Debate on a report about corruption in wheat supplies might result in Egypt's parliament withdrawing confidence from Minister of Supply Khaled Hanafi, if it is tabled

Khaled Hanfey
Khaled Hanfey (Photo: Al-Ahram)

As the end of the first session of Egypt's House of Representatives approaches, many MPs are wondering if their written motions (or interpellations) questioning the performance of the government of Prime Minister Sherif Ismail will be discussed or not.

Two cabinet ministers affiliated with Ismail's government – Minister of Supply Khaled Hanafi and Minister of Education Al-Hilali Al-Sherbini – face motions accusing them of corruption.

MPs seek in particular to direct their guns at Minister of Supply Hanafi. They say their motions, backed by documentation, aim to expose the depth of corruption and graft at the Ministry of Supply.

They also say they want to use a report by a parliamentary fact-finding committee on corruption in wheat supplies to support their argument against Minister Hanafi, and to force his resignation.

MP Magdi Malak, head of the fact-finding committee, told reporters Saturday that the report will be submitted to parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal Sunday.

Malak, who has refused to disclose the contents of the report, had previously said that a lack of control over wheat supplies led to large quantities of grain finding their way into the black market without adequate oversight from the Ministry of Supply, with many of ministry officials illegally profiting.

MPs — primarily independent — and journalist Mostafa Bakri, also accuse Hanafi of misusing public funds. Bakri alleges that Hanafi cost the Ministry of Supply EGP 7 million for an expensive suite in a Nile-front five star hotel (the Semiramis Intercontinental) during the period between February 2014 and August 2016.

In a quick response, the ministry said in an official statement Saturday that Minister Hanafi did not cost the ministry any money and that the bill of his stay in the Semiramis Hotel was footed by him with private money.

Bakri said, "The corruption exposed by the fact-finding committee and Hanafi's shady practices should put the government before two choices: either Hanafi chooses to resign from office by his own free will, or parliament withdraws confidence from him."

Hanafi defended himself before parliament this month, denying there is graft in wheat supplies or that he profited from his post.

Hanafi also boasted that his excellent performance led to putting an end to citizens standing in long lines in front of bakeries to get bread. He also said he was able to modernise the ration card system in a way that enabled millions of citizens to get high-quality products.

According to Article 130 of Egypt's 2014 constitution, "Each MP has the right to table a motion (or interpellation) that seeks to withdraw confidence from the prime minister or his/her deputies, and a cabinet minister or his/her deputies, after questioning their performance and that parliament must discuss this motion between seven and 60 days from its submission."

Article 242 of parliament's internal bylaws also state that reports finalised by parliamentary fact-finding committees should be put up for debate in a plenary session that immediately follows their submission.

If the fact-finding report on corruption and graft in wheat supplies and the supply ministry was submitted Sunday, this means that it could be open for debate on the same day or on Monday.

Parliament's schedule of debates on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday do not list any discussion for motions against Minister of Supply Hanafi. But the schedule could change at any time.

Alaa Abdel-Moneim, head of the pro-government parliamentary bloc "Support Egypt", told reporters he expects that parliament will withdraw confidence from Hanafi.

"The fact-finding report about corruption in the Ministry of Supply and a lot of MPs having documented information about this corruption could force Minister Hanafi to resign," said Abdel-Moneim.

The first session of Egypt new parliament is expected to come to a close at the end of this month, with the House adjourning for a one-month summer recess.

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