Mahmoud Fawzi, the secretary-general of Egypt's parliament, revealed in a TV interview on Friday evening that the country's newly-elected MPs will hold an opening procedural session on Tuesday to take the constitutional oath and elect a speaker and two deputies
The meeting, which will be aired live on state TV, comes after President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi issued a decree on Thursday asking the new House of Representatives to convene on 12 January 2021.
Fawzi explained that due to the anti-coronavirus protective measures, it will be difficult for all 568 elected MPs plus 28 appointees to gather in one place to take the constitutional oath.
"So, it was decided that MPs be divided into groups and take the oath over two stages," said Fawzi, indicating that "in the first stage, a group of 284 MPs elected via the individual candidacy system only will be asked to gather in the meeting hall to take the oath."
"When each MP hears his/her name and his/her membership number, he/she will be asked to take the oath and cast his/her vote in a box to elect a speaker and two deputies," said Fawzi, adding that "once all individual MPs finish this business, the meeting hall will be closed and sanitised."
In the second stage, said Fawzi, another 284 MPs, elected through the party list system only, will be allowed to enter the hall to take the oath and cast votes."
Fawzi indicated that the 28 appointees will be the last to take the constitutional oath and elect a speaker.
Fawzi expects that the opening procedural session on Tuesday will be very long. "But this is necessary as each of the three procedures – taking the oath and electing a speaker and two deputies – should go in line with the constitution and parliament's internal bylaws," said Fawzi.
He indicated that it was proposed earlier that MPs take a collective oath, "but this is impossible as the constitution states that each MP should read the oath individually," said Fawzi.
Some security experts warned this week that it would be difficult and risky for all 596 MPs to gather in one place and take the constitutional oath.
"If every two MPs take one minute to read the oath parliament will need at least five hours to finish the opening procedural session," said national security expert Mohamed Qashqoush in an article in Al-Ahram on 2 January. Qashqoush proposed instead that MPs take a collective oath to save time and effort.
Qashqoush warned that all MPs meeting in one place violates the anti-coronavirus protective measures. Three of the newly-elected MPs died last month from the coronavirus.
According to Article 104 of the constitution, each newly-elected MP should take the oath as follows; "I swear by almighty God to honestly preserve the republican system, respect the constitution and the law and that fully observe the interests of the people, and preserve the homeland's independence, unity and the integrity of its land."
MPs are expected to re-elect Ali Abdel-Aal, the speaker of the outgoing parliament, for another five years.
The five-year term of Egypt’s outgoing House of Representatives (2016-2021) concluded today (9 January).
The opening session of the new House of Representatives will be chaired by prominent writer Farida El-Shobashy, as the eldest member in the House.
El-Shobashy will be aided by two deputies, MPs Fatma Ahmed and Abanoub Ezzat, as the youngest members of the House.
Egypt’s two-stage parliamentary elections were held from 24 October to 8 December.
The pro-government Mostaqbal Watan coalition swept the polls, gaining 315 seats (53 percent).
Mostaqbal Watan’s coalition with other political parties gave it a comfortable majority of 75 percent in the new parliament.