Two Egyptian MPs to compete for head of legislative committee post

Gamal Essam El-Din , Wednesday 12 Oct 2016

Two high-profile MPs from rival camps seek to head parliament's legislative and constitutional affairs committee

File photo: Egyptian parliament (Photo: Reuters)

Opposition MPs and high-profile lawyers Alaa Abdel-Moneim and Bahaaeddin Abu Shoka announced Wednesday that they have each decided to stand for the post of head of parliament's legislative and constitutional affairs committee.

MPs are expected to elect the senior members of 25 committees Sunday or Monday.

Parliament's secretariat-general announced Wednesday that "MPs who wish to become members of certain committees should register their names Thursday (tomorrow)." Each MP could join two committees only.

Sunday's plenary session is expected to be adjourned early to allow MPs elect senior members of the 25 committees, with one head, two deputies, and one secretary-general for each committee. The results will be declared the same day.

The leading members of many committees are expected to change amid heated competition among political parties on winning the lion's share of senior posts.

Parliament's influential legislative and constitutional affairs committee is expected to see a heated fight. The committee's failure to reach a decision over MP Ahmed Mortada Mansour's membership of the House of Representatives left committee members divided.

One group, led by lawyer Alaa Abdel-Moneim, criticised the committee's chairman, Bahaaeddin Abu Shoqa, for his failure to implement a Cassation Court ruling invalidating Mansour's parliamentary membership.

Abdel-Moneim told reporters that a good number of MPs asked him to compete for the post of incumbent Abu Shoqa.

"The committee's performance in the first legislative season – which came to an end last September – was poor and indecisive and I intend to bring it back on a sound track," said Abdel-Moneim.

Abdel-Moneim said the Cassation Court ruling invalidating Mansour's parliamentary membership must be implemented. "The committee should show respect for the law and the constitution by implementing this verdict," said Abdel-Moneim.

Abdel-Moneim is a leftist MP and parliamentary spokesman of the pro-government bloc "Support Egypt." He told reporters Wednesday that he has requested to be the bloc's official candidate for the post of the head of the legislative and constitutional affairs committee.

"I hope that my request will be endorsed by the bloc because I am one of its founders and because they know that a lot of MPs support my candidacy," said Abdel-Moneim. He argued that "most of members have become dissatisfied with the performance of the current chairman, Abu Shoqa."

Abdel-Moneim faces strong opposition from rival lawyer and independent MP Mortada Mansour. Abdel-Moneim's insistence that the parliamentary membership of Mansour's son, Ahmed, must be dropped brought him under fire.

Mortada Mansour, who is also chairman of Zamalek Sporting Club, accused Abdel-Moneim of offering bribes to MPs to vote in favour of dropping his son's parliamentary membership.

Abu Shoqa told reporters that he doesn't fear Abdel-Moneim's competition. Abo Shoqa has indicated that MPs affiliated with his party, Al-Wafd, and others support him.

Abu Shoqa strongly denied that "the committee's performance in the first session was poor." "We did a lot and I was able to contain differences among MPs over several serious issues," said Abu Shoqa, adding that "the head of this controversial committee should be as much a wise and neutral man as possible."

Veteran MP and high-profile lawyer Kamal Ahmed may also stand. "I think the head of this committee should be an independent and forceful figure who can settle internal disputes in a firm way," Kamal told Ahram Online.

Ahmed was temporarily banned by the ethics committee from attending some sessions in the first legislative season when he hurled his shoe at former MP and television presenter Tawfik Okasha after the latter dined with the Israeli ambassador in Cairo.

Parliament's legislative and constitutional affairs committee is expected to discuss a number of politically sensitive laws and issues in the new winter season.

Laws aimed at regulating the press, local council elections, and the formation of a national elections commission are just few of many that are expected to be taken up by the committee. The committee will also discuss the controversial agreement that places two Red Sea islands – Tiran and Sanafir – in Saudi territorial waters. Whether the agreement is constitutional will be decided by the committee.

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