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Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Egyptian MP El-Hariri to be investigated by parliament's ethics committee

Gamal Essam El-Din , Saturday 4 Aug 2018
Egyptian MP Haitham El-Hariri (Photo: Al-Ahram)

The Egyptian parliament's leftist bloc known as the 25-30 group said in a statement that one of its members, Alexandria's high-profile MP Haitham El-Hariri, will face questioning by the House's ethics committee on Sunday.

The bloc said it will hold a press conference following the questioning to “expose facts” and show solidarity with El-Hariri. The bloc's statement said that two other leftist MPs – Ahmed Tantawi and Mohamed Abdel-Ghani – have been already questioned by the ethics committee and are expected to face disciplinary action.

Salah Hassaballah, parliament's spokesperson, confirmed in a press conference on 31 July that El-Hariri and other leftist MPs could face serious disciplinary action.

Hassaballah told reporters that parliament's speaker Ali Abdel-Aal is keen to see the opposition with a strong voice in the House, "but he stressed many times that at this crucial stage Egypt needs an objective, rather than provocative or confrontational, opposition."

A verbal clash erupted between speaker Abdel-Aal and leftist MPs on 17 July – or just one week before parliament adjourned for summer recess – over a law regulating the salaries of top state officials like the prime minister, parliament speaker, cabinet ministers and provincial governors.

While Abdel-Aal insisted that the law aims to cut pensions of top state officials by a large margin to save money for the treasury, leftist MPs rejected the argument.

"The pension of any of such top officials will be cut down to 25 percent – rather than 80 percent – of the last salary he receives on the job," said Abdel-Aal, adding that "the reduction in the value of the pensions of these senior officials by 55 percent aims to help the state treasury save millions in Egyptian pounds."

The law faced stiff opposition from leftist MPs, who accused Abdel-Aal of always exercising a heavy-handed approach to parliamentary business and manipulating debates to defend the government and compel MPs to approve its laws.

Abdel-Aal responded by accusing leftist MPs of "trying their best to export misguided information about laws to the public and to block the passage of reformist legislations by the House."

Abdel-Aal also said on 17 July that he gave orders that parliament's internal bylaws be implemented and that there would be a vote on whether some MPs, convicted by the ethics committee, should be stripped of membership.

He added that "I once intervened to save parliament from some MPs who had attempted to hijack it, and now I intervene again to save it from others who aim to hijack it for the second time."

In its statement on 29 July, the 25-30 group said "the accusations levelled against MPs El-Hariri, Tantawi, and Abdel-Ghani are politically motivated." 

"These accusations are old, entirely unfounded, and go back to the time when the group attacked the agreement that led to Egypt ceding two of its Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia," said the statement, "but each time one of our MPs expresses opposition, he faces threats from the speaker that he would be stripped of membership."

Spokesperson Hassaballah accused the leftist opposition of exercising a form of dictatorship.

"They are trying their best to impose their viewpoints on parliament and public opinion in a provocative way," said Hassaballah.

Salah Montasser, a high-profile Ahram columnist, warned in an article last week that stripping leftist MPs of membership would be a bad development for Egypt's political life.

"I think that parliament and its speaker should be as keen as possible to see that the House includes all kinds of opposition," said Montasser.

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