By Heba Fahmy
CAIRO: Ninety Former MPs and independent parliamentary candidates, who came out empty-handed in the parliamentary elections, said on Saturday that they would form a shadow parliament parallel to the “illegitimate” official parliament, which is dominated by the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP).
“We will establish a legitimate parliament that includes all the parliamentary, political and legal figures that have the Egyptian people’s confidence,” former MP and independent PA candidate and leader in Al Karama Party, Hamdeen Sabbahi said in a press conference on Saturday.
Outspoken journalist and former MP Mostafa Bakry told Daily News Egypt that the parliament is expected to launch with 120 members.
“This parliament can discuss the bills proposed at the People’s Assembly. It can also prepare bills that can be presented to the public and discuss important topics regarding fighting corruption, the hike in prices, and the economic, social or political situation [in Egypt],” Bakry said.
“We will operate as if we are actual MPs, the only difference is that we will present our decisions to the media and the people and if there are any violations by the [official MPs] we will present complaints against them to the prosecutor general,” Bakry added.
According to Bakry, as a minority in the parliament which has always been dominated by NDP, the opposition MPs couldn’t execute their decisions or approved laws on the ground, unless the NDP agreed to them.
“Thus, the reason behind this [shadow parliament] is to give the opposition a voice on critical issues’ in parliament,” Bakry added.
Bakry told Daily News Egypt that all opposition groups are participating in the “shadow” government including Al-Wafd party and the Muslim Brotherhood.
However, Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Wafd leaders said they haven’t confirmed their participation.
“We are discussing this option [participating in the shadow parliament] along with other options,” Saad El-Katatni, head of the 2005 MB parliamentary bloc, told Daily News Egypt.
“When we reach a final decision on the issue, we will announce it,” El-Katatni added.
Former MB candidate Mohamed El-Beltagy denied reports that he had already participated in the “shadow” parliament and confirmed El-Katatni’s statement.
“It’s still an idea that’s being discussed, it hasn’t crystallized yet,” El-Beltagy told Daily News Egypt.
“I have no information regarding this issue [the participation of Al-Wafd Party in the shadow parliament].” Secretary General of Al-Wafd Party Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour told Daily News Egypt.
Both the Brotherhood and Al-Wafd withdrew from the polls before the runoffs on Dec. 5, amid accusations of flagrant violations and vote rigging. Other independent candidates including Sabbahi and Bakry ended up withdrawing from the polls as well.
The final results of the PA elections showed that the NDP swept the polls — winning 420 out of 508 seats in the PA — while Al-Wafd won six seats, Al-Tagammu won five and the Democratic Peace Party and the Muslim Brotherhood won one each. Sixty-nine independent candidates, not including the MB candidate who also ran as independent, won.
“The parliament which was chosen through fraud is illegitimate and we will not accept any law or decision issued by it,” Sabbahi said in a video posted on his website on Saturday.
Opposition and rights groups accused the NDP of vote rigging and denying representatives of independent candidates and opposition parties entry into the polling stations in spite of their possession of notarized permits.
“The parliamentary battle is hard evidence that the regime hates democracy and insists on robbing the Egyptian people of their right to choose their representatives,” Sabbahi said on his website.
“(This) confirms the legitimacy of our fight to completely change the regime through peaceful civil resistance and disobedience,” he added.
Bakry said that the members of the shadow parliament were scheduled to give their oath in front of the State Council on Monday, while the official new parliament kicks off its first meeting.