Egypt's parliament opens its second legislative season amid strict anti-coronavirus measures

Gamal Essam El-Din , Saturday 2 Oct 2021

Following a two-month summer recess, Egypt's House of Representatives held a one-hour opening procedural sitting on Saturday amid strict anti-coronavirus measures.

Parliament

House Speaker Hanafi Gibali chaired Saturday’s procedural meeting. He first read out Decree 418, issued last week by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, which instructs MPs to begin their second legislative season on 2 October

Gibali delivered a speech outlining his expectations for the coming second legislative season, which will see MPs discussing a number of important legislations and policies that will become law.

"We should cooperate with the state's other constitutional institutions to draft national strategies that can win public satisfaction," said Gibali, adding that "we are building a new state and so we should do our best to meet the needs of the public and reflect the pulse of the masses and defend their interests."

Gibali said the House's first legislative season saw the passing of very important legislations, proving that MPs were up to their responsibilities. "MPs were also keen to exercise their supervisory powers in a very rational way and so there was a balance between the House's legislative and supervisory roles and MPs were keen to be the voice of the conscience of the people and their watchful eye on the government's performance," Gibali added.

Gibali said the House welcomes the passing of Egypt's new strategy on human rights, which aims to achieve a balance between freedoms and rights.

Gibali revealed that the government had referred a number of legislations to the House to be discussed in its upcoming session. The list includes legislative amendments to laws regulating criminal procedures, the levying of a financial resource development fee and the possession of weapons and ammunition.

Gibali said laws drafted by MPs Hala Abul Saad and Emad Saad Hammouda on tax evasion penalties and the organisation of the new housing communities were referred to concerned committees to be discussed.

He also indicated that the new general finance law which was discussed and approved by the Senate in its first legislative session was referred to the House to be discussed.

Gibali said another procedural session would be held on Sunday to allow MPs who wish to stand for positions on the House's 25 committees to declare themselves. The house is required to elect a chairman, two deputies and one secretary-general for each committee. "Following this procedure, a meeting will be held to declare the final lists of members of each committee and the results of the election of the leading posts of the 25 committees," said Gibali.

According to Article 40 of the House's internal bylaws, each MP should join two committees, and that the House's steering bureau will make sure that each committee includes a certain number of MPs. The members of each committee come from different governorates and political backgrounds.

Gibali said he rejected a request submitted to lift the parliamentary immunity of one MP because it was based on malicious reasons. "I, however, decided to refer another two requests to the legislative and constitutional affairs committee to discuss them," said Gibali

On Monday, the House will hold another meeting to discuss its schedule of debate and legislative agenda.

On 28 September, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly met with Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Alaa Fouad to review a preliminary list of draft laws which the government intends to refer to the House in its legislative season. "This preliminary list includes draft laws on criminal procedures, general finance, the participation of the private sector in infrastructure projects and public utilities and construction activities," said Fouad.

According to Egypt's 2014 constitution, the House's legislative season should be no less than nine months, starting on the first week of October and ending in July. 

Ahmed Manaa, the House's secretary-general, indicated that the House today's meeting was held amid strict anti-coronavirus measures. "While all MPs have been vaccinated, the House made sure that MPs also wear face masks and observe social distancing," said Manaa.

On Tuesday, the Senate – Egypt's upper consultative house – will hold an opening session, marking the beginning of its second season. In a meeting with parliamentary correspondents on 29 September, the Senate's Secretary-General Mahmoud Othman said the opening session will be procedural, mainly aiming to form the Senate's 14 committees and discussing the senate's schedule of debate. 

Othman said a second Senate meeting is expected to be held on Wednesday.

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