A file photo of Egyptian parliament (Photo:Reuters)
Egypt's parliament – the House of Representatives – voted Monday in favour of approving a new NGO law.
Parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal told MPs in a plenary session on Monday morning that the law was revised by the State Council in legislative and constitutional terms, "and so it is now up for a final vote."
At the end of a six-hour debate on Sunday, MPs approved the 98-article NGO law.
"I declare parliament's approval of all the articles of the new NGO law, but the final vote will come only after it is revised by the State Council," Abdel-Aal said.
Abdel-Aal told MPs that the NGO law opens new windows for civil society to play greater roles in Egypt.
"At the same time the law also observes the national security dimensions and guarantees that NGOs performing in Egypt achieve public interests," said Abdel-Aal.
Abdel-Aal also indicated that parliament's rush in debating and voting the law was by no means the result of any foreign pressure.
"No foreign circle can compel the state or parliament to follow any certain policies or agenda," said Abdel-Aal, adding that "we decided to discuss this law only after we remarked that it achieves public interests and sends a message to the world that a strong Egypt is back to the international and regional fronts and that its legislations meet national interests."
Abdel-Hadi El-Qasabi, leader of the majority coalition, told MPs that the law observes Article 75 of the constitution, which states that citizens have the right to form NGOs and that they shall be licensed upon notification.
"Second, supervision of the performance of NGOs will be the responsibility of a central unit to be affiliated with the Ministry of Social Solidarity, and this is different from the current law (70/2017), which brings NGOs under the monitoring of a special apparatus to be affiliated with parliament," said Al-Qasabi.
"Third , and above all, the law eliminates all kinds of freedom-restricting penalties which led many to criticise the law and ask for a change to go in line with international conventions."