11 independent MPs demand individual bloc

Daily News Egypt
4 Min Read

CAIRO: Independent Members of Parliament have once again expressed their wish to be recognized as a distinct bloc within the People’s Assembly.

Even though the parliament sessions are adjourned until next November, 11 independent MPs have reiterated their request, Gamal Zahran, independent MP, told The Daily Star Egypt.

Zahran announced that they will file an official request soon.

In the 2005 parliamentary elections, independent candidates won more than 60 percent of the seats. Most of them, however, joined the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) after winning the elections. Hence the NDP went from controlling 37 percent of parliament seats to 73 percent.

Only 12 MPs in the current parliamentary round are affiliated with recognized opposition political parties. A total of 88 MPs, who ran as independents, were affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and maintained their affiliation.

Although parliament doesn’t officially recognize the Brotherhood as a bloc, the group members have selected a bloc leader and a spokesperson.

The group of independent MPs, led by Zahran, want to distinguish themselves from the Brotherhood. Prominent names like Alaa Abd El Moneim and Mostafa Bakri are also included in Zahran’s list.

“We previously asked PA Speaker Fathi Sorour to have parliament recognize us as a separate bloc, said Zahran. Their request was denied on the grounds that the 11 MPs do not represent a political party.

Although there must be political diversity within Parliament, says Zahran, “the National Democratic Party tries to eliminate our presence by admitting independent members to the NDP to support its majority rule.

He says this happened after the 2005 parliamentary elections; and more recently when four independents joined the NDP, “which decreases our number to eleven.

[We were] elected for our independent background, and we ask Fathi Sorour to recognize us as an [individual] bloc, says Zahran, adding that the independent members do not want to alienate themselves from MPs of other political parties. They merely want to be recognized as having their own vision and program, which they feel Sorour is ignoring, he added.

During one parliamentary session, Sorour described the independent MPs as a “time bomb, since they are not affiliated with a specific party platform.

Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour, secretary general of Al-Wafd party, told the daily Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper, “I believe working away from [political] parties does not enrich political life. It is their right to call for their own bloc, but at the same time, it is not organized.

On the other hand, Heidar Boghdady, an NDP MP, told The Daily Star Egypt, “There is no problem establishing a bloc for independents, on condition that they are totally independent from [the] Muslim Brotherhood.

Amr Hashem, expert at Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said that the existence of a new bloc for independent MPs is of “great importance as it could enrich parliamentary [operations], whether in its legislative or monitoring duties.

However, Hashem says, the ruling party has a narrow vision and refuses blocs and alliances.

“Any political [activity] established [under] those themes will be rejected using various arguments.even though the law gives independents the right to participate in political life.

Ignoring their demands, he concluded, means not recognizing their political identity, which is a problem that must be addressed.

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