Egypt MPs to convene in Tahrir Square if parliament's doors remain shut

Ahram Online, Monday 18 Jun 2012

Parliamentarians reject ruling military council's 'Constitutional Addendum,' vow Tahrir Square sit-in to confront newly-unmasked 'counter-revolution'

Muslim Brotherhood supporters celebrate outside Egypt
Muslim Brotherhood supporters celebrate outside Egypt's parliament in Cairo Jan. 23, 2012. (Photo by: Reuters)

Members of Egypt’s dissolved Islamist-led parliament on Monday threatened to convene in Cairo’s Tahrir Square if they were barred from entering the parliament building.

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and the Salafist Nour Party, along with several independent MPs, have vowed to hold a sit-in in the flashpoint square to express their rejection of the “counter-revolution,” which, they say, “has been exposed by recent moves by Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).”

On Thursday, Egypt’s High Constitutional Court declared the Parliamentary Elections Law – which governed last year’s parliamentary poll – unconstitutional. The court also ruled the Political Disenfranchisement Law – which, if applied could have led to the disqualification of Ahmed Shafiq from Egypt’s just-concluded presidential race – to be similarly unconstitutional.  

Only one day earlier, the Ministry of Justice issued a controversial decree allowing Egypt’s military-intelligence and military-police apparatuses to arrest civilians for non-military crimes.

Members of Egypt’s Islamist-led parliament, almost half of the seats of which were held by the Brotherhood’s FJP, promised to end their sit-in once the SCAF hands over executive authority to Egypt’s newly-elected president (who, according to preliminary results of the this weekend’s presidential runoff, appears to be the Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi).

MPs also rejected the SCAF’s recently-issued ‘Constitutional Addendum,’ which grants the SCAF sweeping powers and sorely limits the authority of Egypt’s incoming president.  

“We will not abide by this supplementary constitutional declaration, which effectively creates a military institution independent from the rest of the country,” said Mohamed Emara, deputy head of the dissolved People’s Assembly (the lower house of Egypt’s parliament).

Emara also rejected appeals against the constitutionality of Egypt’s Constituent Assembly, responsible for drafting a new constitution. “The assembly is an independent entity. There’s no reason for it not to carry on with its duties,” said Emara.

Ashraf Thabet, member of the Salafist Nour Party and former deputy speaker of parliament, urged all national forces to unite in order to “prevent escalation of the crisis with the SCAF.” He went on to say that the Nour Party remained in ongoing consultations over how to resolve the current political impasse.

Saad El-Katatni, speaker of Egypt’s dissolved parliament, confirmed in a press statement that “no entity has the power to dissolve parliament except the people who elected it.”  

These sentiments were echoed by Farid Ismail, a member of both the FJP and the Constituent Assembly. “The SCAF’s order to dissolve parliament is unconstitutional, according to both the 1971 national charter and last year’s Constitutional Declaration,” Ismail asserted.

On Monday, two prominent MPs – Emara and Mahmoud El-Khodeiry – were both barred by military authorities from entering the parliament building.

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