By Sarah Carr
CAIRO: Former opposition MPs swore themselves in to an “alternative parliament” Sunday on the steps of Cairo’s State Council.
Around 30 members of the Wafd and Karama political parties, the Muslim Brotherhood as well as independent former MPs took the oath of allegiance in unison — at the same time as the People’s Assembly’s 514 elected and appointed MPs were also sworn in. The election of four members, out of the contested 508 seats, was invalidated.
The Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Wafd Party formerly withdrew from the second round of the parliamentary elections in protest at procedural violations and interference by security bodies. Al-Ghad had boycotted the elections process from the beginning, although some of its members ran.
Independent MP Hamdeen Sabahy told Daily News Egypt that the decision by the opposition to enter, rather than boycott, the elections “was correct because it would not have been possible in any other way to reveal the extent of the regime’s corruption and oppression.”
Former independent MP Mostafa Bakry explained that the alternative parliament will draw up draft legislation and discuss issues of public concern in conferences.
“Founders of the alternative parliament will strive, using all legal means, towards the holding of free elections, especially in light of the Supreme Administrative Court’s ruling that the elections were void in more than 98 constituencies. The country is in a state of constitutional vacuum,” Bakry told reporters.
MPs said that since the Administrative Court invalidated the elections in 98 constituencies (which each return two MPs), this means that the election of 196 MPs is void.
“The authorities’ refusal to respect these court decisions represents an attack on the law and the constitution” Bakry said.
Independent MP Gamal Zahran said that the alternative parliament will “meet regularly” and also elect a cabinet. He said that so far the alternative parliament has 100 members.
In an interview with state TV, the new People’s Assembly deputy said that unemployment, investment and health insurance will be the top priorities of the new parliament.
Before announcing the alternative parliament MPs presented a complaint to the administrative court demanding that the parliamentary elections as a whole be declared null and void and new elections be held.
Former Aswan MP Mohamed El-Omda, a member of Al-Wafd Party, said that the MPs’ case is based on the “wide-ranging forgery” which took place during the elections and “thousands” of court rulings upholding the right of rejected candidates to stand for election.
El-Omda said that implementation of these rulings would change “80 percent of current PA MPs.”
Shoubra El-Kheima candidate Zahran described the elections as a “premeditated attempt by the National Democratic Party (NDP) to assassinate the respectable political opposition.”
“The people did not choose this parliament. It was chosen by [NDP policies committee member] Ahmed Ezz,” Zahran said.
Zahran told reporters that in the constituency he stood for election in, “all branches of authority” took part in “forgery, including the police and NDP thugs.”
“The MPs sitting in the PA have no legitimacy. The real legitimacy lies with the MPs who refused political assassination. We will continue to resist until this parliament falls and the honest ones lead the country.”