CAIRO: Leftist Karama Party MP Saad Aboud hit back at a parliamentary decision to suspend him from PA sessions until the end of the current round in June, labeling it “terrorism.
“They want to terrorize anyone, and this message isn’t just directed at me, but at all the opposition, Aboud told Daily News Egypt.
Aboud was excluded from attending sessions for what the Peoples’ Assembly (PA) considers false charges of embezzlement against officers in the Ministry of Interior responsible for organizing the annual pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca.
“I crossed a red line they think no one should cross, and that is wrong because we have a role to protect the country. I am a representative of the people and I have the right to discuss what involves the nation no matter what, Aboud said.
“We know beforehand that in non-democratic countries we are faced with powers flexing their muscles because they cannot face us with ideas, he added, labeling them a “mafia.
The PA is dominated by the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), 274 members of which supported Aboud’s suspension after 160 NDP MPs submitted a complaint against him.
Aboud’s exclusion followed accusations he leveled against the Interior Ministry alleging that it made profits to the tune of LE 115 million – the difference between what they spent and what the pilgrims paid.
Aboud insists that all his information came from documents he requested and received from the Ministry of Interior itself. “I asked for the information from the Ministry of Interior and I based my questioning on the information I received from them.
According to Aboud each pilgrim paid LE 16,000 to the government for hajj, LE 4,000 was for the flights and the rest for transport and housing. The number of pilgrims numbered almost 30,000.
He added that the revenue from the pilgrimage was LE 365 million and the cost was LE 242 million “so it’s my right to wonder where this money has gone.
During a PA session discussing the issue Wednesday night, NDP members said that according to the ministry’s documents, the revenues were LE 336 million and the costs were LE 1.2 million less, adding that they are now discussin what to do with the profit.
“Parliament is just like a local council if the right to ask a question is revoked and you are punished for it, Aboud said.
Independent MP Mohammed Al-Omda was to appear before a morals committee for charging towards the podium during the voting on Aboud’s suspension, chanting “Down with oppression, shame on you in the face of assembly PA Speaker Fathy Sorour.
Another MP, the NDP’s Saber Ashmawy from South Sinai, submitted his resignation in protest of Aboud’s dismissal.
The PA threw the book at Aboud for making false allegations without presenting proof of any indiscretion which is deemed unconstitutional, but Aboud says preventing him from attending the sessions is what is unconstitutional.
“I have a right to submit a questioning and preventing me from attending is against article 89 of the constitution which delineates an MP’s role, he said.
The media had widely covered the appalling conditions Egyptians traveling with the government’s hajj delegation this year experienced, confronting problems with transport, living conditions and food.
“The pilgrims were subjected to great neglect, especially compared to pilgrims from other countries. This negligence had to be investigated, Aboud said.
As for his exclusion from the remaining sessions of the current PA round Aboud said, “It is a stupid decision that reflects weakness and we will not bow to this terrorism.