Egypt's parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal (Photo: Al Ahram)
Egypt’s parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal said a new criminal procedures code and a law regulating the elections of municipal councils will be high on the chamber's agenda when it returns from its summer recess.
In an interview with editor-in-chief of Al-Ahram daily Alaa Thabet, Abdel-Aal said the House of Representatives, which was seated in January 2016, has had a busy legislative agenda, given that it is the first parliament after Egypt enacted its new constitution in 2014.
“Parliaments elected after a new constitution carry a greater burden to put this charter into force,” Abdel-Aal said in the interview which was published on Friday.
The house has issued a large number of complete laws over the past two years, he explained.
Abdel-Aal said the 200-article criminal procedures code, which was referred by the government to the parliament during its last legislative season was slow to pass because "it iis a highly sensitive” law that needs careful deliberation before enactment.
Abdel-Aal also said that enacting the law of local governance, which regulates municipal elections, has been long overdue due to the parliament’s “very busy” agenda.
The last time Egypt held municipal elections was in 2008 and a new law regulating the poll has been delayed for three years.
Asked about why Egypt’s new cabinet was sworn in by the President before the parliament’s approval, Abdel-Aal said the move aimed "not to disrupt public services or undermine decision making at critical times."
“It is imperative not to leave the country without a government for a long period to protect the country’s interest,” Abdel-Aal said.
In June, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi appointed a new government in which he changed key posts, shortly after he was sworn in for a second presidential term.
Addressing some critics who say that parliament fails to carry out its supervisory role over the government, Abdel-Aal said his parliemnt has carried out enquiries, issued urgent statements, put forward draft decisions, and formed fact-finding committees.
He said the only two oversight tools it has not used with the government are questioning and the withdrawal of confidence because of the lack of main requirements or evidence to do so.
He said the parliament has registered 350 notes on the current government’s program and will follow up on ways to adopt them.
Abdel-Aal criticized what he called attempts to undermine the House of Representatives by "merely focusing on its negatives,” saying these harm the national interests.
He dismissed accusations that the parliament is rubber-stamping government’s decisions mainly those about subsidy cuts, describing the recent economic reform measures Egypt has adopted as “bitter medicine” to keep the country’s budget deficit in check.
Abdel-Aal said that he is always keen to listen to the voice of the parliament’s minority opposition, saying that he often shows favour to opposition MPs.