In a press conference Tuesday, Egypt’s parliamentary spokesperson Salah Hassaballah told reporters that the long-awaited law aimed at regulating the performance and elections of local councils in Egypt will receive priority in parliament’s next session (2018/19), scheduled to be held in October.
Hassaballah said that although parliament’s local administration committee has finalised drafting and discussing the law, it decided that it will be postponed to next session because it still needs to undergo a national dialogue.
“We will have a complete law regulating the performance and election of local councils and it will be a priority in the coming session,” said Hassaballah, adding that “we hope there will be a national dialogue on this law because it covers several controversial issues such as whether to adopt the list or individual system in electing local councils.”
Hassaballah said that “parliament has been under pressure to pass the new law on local councils in the outgoing session, but we saw that the draft legislation should first be the subject of a national dialogue.”
“Other important laws such as the ones regulating criminal procedures, personal litigation, and the landlord-tenant relationship are expected to be discussed and passed in parliament’s coming session.”
Hassaballah added that “a new law on the election of the House of Representatives is still in the making.”
“Parliament has not yet received any draft law in this respect from the government. All efforts are focused on amending Article 4, which forces MPs to maintain their partisan affiliation once they join parliament.”
The spokesperson revealed that the third legislative season (2017/18) revealed that 197 laws covering several political and socioeconomic areas were passed. In addition, 66 international agreements with foreign governments were also approved.
In supervisory terms, Hassaballah said MPs were keen to exercise control on the government’s performance at all times.
“MPs were able to force the government to change some of its policies, particularly those related to poor and limited-income citizens – and to change some cabinet ministers upon grounds of poor performance,” said Hassaballah.
He indicated that MPs directed as many as 385 “information requests” at cabinet ministers, not to mention that parliament had opened a public debate on several public issues such as price hikes, as well as environmental degradation and smuggling of Egyptian antiquities in 20 plenary sessions.
“Cabinet ministers were keen to answer MPs’ questions and information requests and to attend meetings of parliamentary committees to discuss laws,” said Hassaballah, adding that “those who failed to respond to MPs were removed from office in the cabinet reshuffle.”
Hassaballah directed scathing attacks at leftist opposition MPs in parliament.
“This kind of opposition is fond of exercising a kind of dictatorship,” said Hassaballah, adding that “Egypt’s parliament needs objective opposition, but this is a thing which leftist MPs – known as the 25-30 group – do not know.”
“They are fond of exercising a kind of sensational opposition.”
Hassballah revealed that some leftist MPs have been referred to the ethics committee.
“They face several charges, and as far as I know, Alexandria’s MP Haitham El-Hariri will be investigated by the committee next Sunday, while the committee’s report on Ahmed Tantawi, another leftist MP, will be issued soon,” said Hassaballah.
Hassaballah added that parliament’s speaker Ali Abdel-Aal is keen to have an opposition has a strong voice, “but he stressed many times that at this crucial stage Egypt needs an objective, rather than provocative or confrontational, opposition.”