Egypt parliament to question prime minister on NGO case: Speaker El-Katatni

Ahram Online, Saturday 3 Mar 2012

Following public fury over lifting travel ban on American NGO workers, Egypt's prime minister, cabinet ministers to answer questions in parliament on 11 March, says parliamentary speaker Mohamed Saad El-Katatni

Speaker El-Katatni of the Muslim Brotherhood greets other members of parliament in Cairo (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt's parliamentary speaker Mohamed Saad El-Katatni of the Freedom and Justice Party has said parliament will question Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzouri and a number of relevant Cabinet ministers about the ongoing NGO case on 11 March.

On Thursday a travel ban was lifted on 20 foreign nationals – including 13 US citizens – who were among 43 NGO workers indicted for working in Egypt and raising funds without an appropriate licence.

"This case cannot be settled with a political decision. Recent developments [in the NGO case] raise many question marks," El-Katatni said during a speech at a joint session of parliament on Saturday.

"On what basis were the [US citizens] accused in the case allowed to travel and on what basis would a private US plane be allowed to arrive without permission from the relevant authorities and take them away despite the travel ban?

"What is behind the judges' recusal from the case and why were the judges pressured to withdraw? And why hasn’t a single investigation been conducted into the issue."

El-Katatni was referring to a number of dramatic developments in the ongoing NGO case last week. On Tuesday, the case's three presiding judges stepped down "for reasons of discomfort." Many suspect the judges came under political pressure.

On Wednesday, the investigating authorities lifted a travel ban imposed on US citizens involved the case.

The next day they boarded a US military plane at Cairo airport that was reportedly secured by a "high-profile Egyptian authority."

"The case is ongoing and I am certain Egypt's judges will not compromise their role and dignity," El-Katatni concluded.

The joint session of parliament is taking place at the Cairo International Conference Centre. Field Marshal Tantawi was scheduled to deliver a speech at the session but has thus far been absent, citing security concerns.

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