Egyptian parliamentary delegation to visit ‎North Sinai despite security concerns
Gamal Essam El-Din, , Sunday 20 Mar 2016
An Egyptian parliamentary delegation will head to ‎North Sinai to review the security situation and the ‎living conditions of citizens

Soliman Wahdan, deputy speaker of Egypt's ‎parliament, told reporters Sunday that he will be at ‎the helm of a parliamentary delegation that will ‎visit North Sinai "soon".

"We will head to North Sinai ‎very soon to review security and living conditions ‎there because this is part of parliament's job,” Wahdan said. “We ‎have to be there on the ground to see what is really ‎going on in this part of Egypt."‎

In a plenary session two weeks ago, Egypt's ‎parliament – the House of Representatives – ‎approved three parliamentary delegation ‎visits to five border governorates: North and South ‎Sinai, Marsa Matruh, Aswan and the Red Sea. ‎

Wahdan said the visit to North Sinai will come only ‎after this governorate's deputies in parliament give ‎their own assessment of the security and living ‎conditions there.

"A hearing session will be held first ‎for those deputies to give us a comprehensive ‎review of conditions in North Sinai," said Wahdan.‎

Parliament's secretariat-general told MPs last week ‎that the visit to North Sinai would be postponed ‎upon the request of the interior ministry.

"The ‎ministry said comprehensive security arrangements should be ‎taken first to guarantee that MPs conduct a ‎successful visit to North Sinai," the parliament's ‎secretariat-general said in statement.‎‎ "As a result, the visit would be postponed until all the ‎necessary security measures are taken."‎

Salama Al-Roqie, an MP for North Sinai, told ‎reporters that the recent spike in terrorist activities in the governorate, especially near the capital El-Arish and ‎the border crossing town of Rafah, forced the ‎interior ministry to postpone the parliamentary visit.

‎‎"Now we are currently coordinating with security ‎forces and the army to guarantee that the ‎parliamentary delegation's visit to North Sinai be ‎conducted as soon as possible, and that it also include ‎the most restive parts," said Al-Roqaie.‎

Al-Roqaie, an MP affiliated with the ‘Support Egypt’ ‎parliamentary bloc, indicated that "until the security ‎arrangements for the visit are completed, we probe ‎the possibility of inviting heads of the main Bedouin ‎tribes and government officials in North Sinai to ‎come to parliament to give their evaluation of the ‎situation there."‎

In a statement on Sunday, the parliament strongly ‎condemned the “heinous attacks” that led to the ‎death of 18 Egyptian policemen in ‎North Sinai on Saturday.

"They were killed while they were ‎performing their duty in safeguarding our country's ‎homeland," said a parliamentary statement.‎

It stressed that parliament is keen that its legislative ‎powers be used in launching a comprehensive ‎campaign against terrorists, their movements and ‎sources of funding.

"We and the state authorities ‎must be one heart in confronting this big danger ‎that has become a threat to the world," said the ‎statement.‎