The 292-article bylaws regulating the performance of the Senate — Egypt’s consultative upper House — were finally approved by MPs in a plenary meeting on Tuesday morning.
The House of Representatives approved the full text of the Senate bylaws on Monday, but speaker Hanafy El-Gebaly said the bill will be put up for a final vote on Tuesday.
Once finally approved by MPs, the Senate bylaws bill will have to be ratified by President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi. The president’s ratification will open the door for the 300-member chamber to hold plenary meetings.
The Senate discussed and approved the bylaws on 29 November 2020, after which they were referred to the House of Representatives to be enacted into law.
The bylaws include some controversial articles such as article 155, which states that the Senate’s plenary meetings cannot be valid unless they are attended by two thirds of the majority of members.
Article 164 also states that the Senate can hold secret meetings upon the request of the president, the prime minister, the speaker or at least 20 senators.
The amended bylaws will strip the prime minister of his right to invite the Senate to hold plenary meetings.
The bylaws, however, state that the Senate can hold “special meetings” upon the request of the president or the prime minister to exchange views on issues related to supreme national interests or listen to statements and clarifications on decisions related to the state’s internal and external public policies.
The bylaws also left in place a controversial article (no.234), which requires that senators take prior approval from the speaker before traveling abroad.
The Parliamentary Spokesperson of Mostaqbal Watan party, Ashraf Rashad, said the speaker of the Senate has the full right to reject a member’s request to travel to a certain country (like Turkey or Qatar).
“This is necessary to prevent senators and MPs who travel abroad from participating in conferences attacking Egypt,” said Rashad.