File photo: Mohamed Saad al-Katatni of the Muslim Brotherhood attends session of the now-dissolved People's assembly in Cairo (Photo: Reuters)
A group of former independent and party-based MPs organised a street protest on Sunday at which they called on Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to intervene for the reinstatement of the dissolved People’s Assembly, the lower house of Egypt's parliament.
Some 30 former MPs, led by former independent parliamentarian Mohamed El-Omda, were forced to hold their press conference on the street after security forces prevented them from holding an emergency session inside the People’s Assembly.
Security personnel told journalists that they had been ordered to prevent the ex-MPs from entering the premises because the men in question "are no longer parliamentarians; they no longer have parliamentary credentials."
Ahmed Fahmi, chairman of the Shura Council (the upper, consultative house of parliament), is currently in charge of running the administrative, financial and security affairs of the People's Assembly.
"Fahmi allowed these former MPs to hold a meeting inside the parliament building some weeks ago to voice their objections to the dissolution of the assembly," said a security source. "It would be excessive to allow these MPs to use the building again to hold another meeting about the same issue."
The former MPs attacked Saad El-Katatni, speaker of parliament's dissolved lower house (and newly-elected chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party), for alleged foot-dragging in challenging the constitutional court ruling that led to the assembly's dissolution.
In a statement read out by Hatem Azzam, member of the centrist Hadara Party, the former MPs urged El-Katatni to implement a decree issued in June by President Morsi calling for the assembly's reinstatement.
"This decree was invalidated by the High Constitutional Court (HCC) without legal basis. El-Katatni should assume his powers to implement it," the statement read. "The HCC's 14 June verdict ordering that the Islamist-dominated parliament be dissolved is a breach of the principle of separation of powers."
The former MPs went on to argue that "the legislative authority should be independent, while other authorities should not go so far as to impose their orders on parliament." They also lamented that the HCC "ignored the fact that parliament was elected by 30 million Egyptians in free and transparent polls and that parliaments should not be at the mercy of the courts."
They also complained that the dissolution of the People’s Assembly had "caused a legislative vacuum and led to the concentration of legislative and executive powers in the hands of the president."
Mohamed Abdel-Alim Dawoud, former People’s Assembly deputy speaker, told Ahram Online that he had refused to join Sunday's protest "because it is no longer useful to shed tears over the dissolved assembly after all the courts agreed that the law that regulated last year's legislative polls was bad and led to the creation of an unbalanced parliament."
"I'm just sad that more than LE2 billion was spent on elections for the assembly without ordinary Egyptians getting anything in return," Dawoud added. "Egyptians were urged by state authorities and the media to participate in the parliamentary polls. Now, after parliament was dissolved after only five months, I'm sure most Egyptians will be less keen to vote in upcoming elections."
Abdel-Alim put the blame on the Muslim Brotherhood and the military generals who ruled Egypt following the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak early last year.
"They drafted the election law in a very bad way," he said. "And, contrary to their public statements, the Muslim Brotherhood does not regret the dissolution of parliament because Islamist President Mohamed Morsi now has all legislative powers in his hands to serve the group's interests."
El-Omda told Ahram Online that Egypt's first post-Mubarak parliament had been the victim of a "conspiracy" between the Brotherhood and Egypt's post-revolution military rulers.
"They were not keen on creating healthy parliamentary life; they only wanted to cut a deal providing the generals with a 'safe exit' and allowing the Muslim Brotherhood to assume power," said El-Omda. "President Morsi let his supporters down, preferring to hold legislative powers himself rather than asking parliament to reconvene."
Former MPs lost any hope for the reinstitution of parliament in September when the Supreme Administrative Court reaffirmed the HCC's ruling calling for the assembly's dissolution.