MPs are scheduled to discuss the local councils law
The House of Representatives convenes on Tuesday to begin its final legislative season. The opening meeting on 1 October will be largely procedural, after which MPs will elect officials for parliament’s 25 committees.
MPs will also select a new secretary-general to replace the incumbent Ahmed Saadeddin who earlier this month announced he would be leaving his post for “private reasons”. Abdel-Hadi Al-Qasabi, leader of the majority Support Egypt coalition, expects Ahmed Al-Mahdi, a leading member of the State Council, to be named as parliament’s new secretary-general.
Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal has told the media that political laws will dominate the agenda of the final season.
“Since parliamentary elections are due by the end of 2020, the House will be busy discussing amendments to political and election laws,” said Abdel-Aal.
Legislation regulating the performance and election of local councils could well top the agenda. Ahmed Al-Sigini, head of parliament’s Local Administration Committee, said a national dialogue on the law could be held before it is discussed by MPs.
Local councils were dissolved by the Administrative Court in 2011 and no new elections have been held. President Al-Sisi told the eighth National Youth Conference on 14 September that he hoped parliament would finalise the new law on local councils so elections could be held early next year.
Abdel-Aal said parliament would also have to debate laws on the formation and election of the Senate and the House of Representatives, and the re-drawing of electoral districts.
In addition, the legislative agenda for 2019-20 is expected to include laws enhancing national security and stemming the tide of rumours spread on social media. The Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee already discussed legislation that could prevent terrorists from using rented housing to stockpile weapons, plan terrorist operations and hide operatives last season, while new laws regulating social media, particularly the opening of fake accounts, has recently moved up the agenda.
Ahmed Badawi, head of parliament’s Telecommunications and Information Technology Committee, told reporters last week that “amendments to the cyberspace law and legislation protecting personal data” have become necessary “to stem the tide of rumour-mongering and false news”.
John Talaat, a member of the Telecommunications Committee, told Al-Ahram Weekly that a cyberspace crime law, “drafted to combat social media accounts which spread lies, fabricated news and malicious rumours, includes severe penalties.
“There is an urgent need to implement this law at a time when Egypt is facing a concerted campaign from hostile TV channels and social media to incite violence.”
Laws on criminal procedure, traffic regulations and the rental of non-housing units are also expected to be discussed by MPs.
Meanwhile, the government of Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli has said it is ready to submit a report on its performance and achievements between July 2018 and June 2019 to parliament for discussion.
Madbouli told the media Monday that the report “Egypt moves forward” will highlight the government’s achievements over the past year.
“The government is required to submit annual reports to parliament and the latest will cover the fiscal year 2018-19,” said Madbouli.
The report will elucidate the way Egypt has recovered its stability and how “the success of the war against terrorists in North Sinai demonstrates the efficacy of the police and army”.
It will show how the government has cut imports and promoted local industry and manufacturing, “particularly in the defence industries which have gone a long way to producing Egypt’s military needs”.
The report will show how Egypt has become a regional hub for natural gas and electricity production and highlight successes in combating illegal migration. “It will also highlight advances in the education, health, medical insurance and petroleum sector.
“Each of parliament’s 25 committees will discuss the report and present recommendations,” says Deputy Parliament Speaker Al-Sayed Al-Sherif.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 26 September, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.