CAIRO: Despite a few glitches, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) parliamentary bloc has done what it can at the parliament, the group concluded during a conference evaluating the performance of its MPs.
The majority of the attendees – a gathering of political analysts, journalists and MB MPs – agreed that the overall performance was more positive than negative. The bloc was successful in bringing up a variety of issues for discussion at the People’s Assembly (PA) and was able to represent the public and its concerns. In addition, there was an active participation by the MB members at the sessions and committee meetings.
On the other hand, attendees also noted that the bloc played a minor role in some of the discussion, overlooking quality of the debate in favor of bringing up more issues.
“The PA discussed important and controversial issues hastily during the last two months of the past round, said Saad El Katatney, the head of the MB bloc. “This includes things such as the monopoly law, the child law, real-estate taxes. The result was the ruling party enforcing its political agenda on the MPs.
Waheed Abdel Meguid from Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies praised the MB bloc for holding this meeting in which different viewpoints regarding the performance of the bloc are presented. “This is a major step taken by the MB towards the development and enhancement of their performance, he said.
“The MB bloc at the PA was successful in bringing up issues such as corruption cases, poverty and unemployment for discussion and they were able to continue what they started in previous rounds. For example the whole case of Egypt exporting natural gas to Israel, said Abdel Meguid.
Participants at the discussion noted a number of weaknesses and drawbacks in the bloc’s performance, but it was its inability to present a united front that was highlighted by the majority.
However, Ahmed Thabet, political science professor at Cairo University, disagrees. “The performance of the bloc was highly noticeable because they presented a united front, he said. “They were also successful in drawing the attention of the public towards the trial of MB leaders and members at military courts.
Yet Thabet said that the ruling party was successful in diverting the opposition’s attention from the major issues – reform and change – to other minor “everyday issues.
“The opposition should take more advantage of the fact that now the ruling party is at its weakest state ever. For the first time in 50 years the ruling party and the government are facing a tremendous amount of strikes and protests and the only way they are able to deal with all this is using security forces, said Abdel Meguid. “Even the strikes and protests are unorganized and are random in nature which makes them lose their momentum.
Journalists also had an active role in the discussion which MP Hussein Ibrahim, member of the MB bloc, describes as “mandatory for the Brotherhood bloc.
“There were 17 MPs from the Muslim Brotherhood at the PA after the 2000 elections, and all of them were well-known as each played an important role during the sessions. However during this term the number of MPs increased but no one stands out because they all just talk, said Abdel Gawaad Abou Kab, head of the PA section at Sabah Al-Khier magazine.
“The pressure the MB is facing outside the PA’s hall greatly affected them and has caused an imbalance in their overall performance, said Adel Sabry, head of the PA section at Al-Wafd newspaper.
Katatney concluded the discussion by saying that “the PA is a mirror to society and we are doing the best we can against a majority [the ruling party at the PA] that doesn’t think.