Egypt parliament has final say on Tiran and Sanafir deal, says head of legislative committee

Gamal Essam El-Din , Monday 16 Jan 2017

Article 151 of constitution gives parliament the final say on the Red Sea island agreement, says Abu Shoqa, the head of parliament committee of legislation and constitutional affairs

Egypt Parliament
File Photo: Egypt's legislature meets for the first time in three years on 10 January 2016 (Photo: AP)

Head of the Egyptian parliament's committee of legislative and constitutional affairs Bahaaeddin Abu Shoqa told reporters Monday that he has no comment on today's High Administrative Court ruling, which upheld a June 2016 decision by an administrative court voiding the April 2016 maritime re-demarcation deal between Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

"However, we will deal with the agreement related to these two islands in accordance with the constitution and the law," said Abu Shoqa.

The cabinet referred on 1 January the controversial agreement, which would place the two Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir in the Gulf of Aqaba under Saudi soveirgnty, to parliament  for voting.

Abu Shoqa said "article 151 of the constitution states that the president of the republic represents the state in its foreign relations and signs deals which will be ratified only after being approved by the House of Representatives."

This article, Abu Shoqa added, gives parliament the final say on the agreement.

Reactions from other MPs differed.

Alaa Abdel-Moneim, a leading member of the legislative and constitutional affairs committee, told reporters that parliament should respect final judicial rulings.

"This is a final judicial ruling and it has clearly stated that the two islands are Egyptian; parliament should respect this," said Abdel-Moneim.

Abdel-Moneim, however, said the government still has the right to appeal the ruling before the Supreme Constitutional Court. "They could resort to the Constitutional Court to decide whether article 151 of the constitution applies to this deal," said Abdel Moneim.

Mohamed Abu Hamed, an independent MP, said that as long as the agreement is referred to parliament, it would be put to discussion.

"Parliament has the final say on the maritime border demarcation deal between Egypt and Saudi Arabia in accordance with article 151 of the constitution," said Abu Hamed, adding that Saudi Arabia could resort to international arbitration to get a final resolution on whether the two islands of Tiran and Sanafir are Egyptian.

In a statement to reporters, the pro-government parliamentary bloc "Support Egypt" said the ruling cannot change the fact that parliament has the sovereign right to decide on the border agreement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Head of the bloc Mohamed El-Sewedy told reporters that "while there should be a separation among powers, parliament still has the absolute right of giving a final say on foreign agreements signed by the president of the republic."

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