By Tamim Elyan
CAIRO: Former opposition and independent MPs and a number of opposition leaders announced Sunday the official launch of the “popular parliament” and its structure in a press conference held at Al Wafd party.
The parliament comprises 50 former MPs, 43 public figures in various specializations and nine representatives from youth movements. It is set to hold its sessions in political parties’ headquarters and in various governorates.
“We announce the launch of the popular parliament, a constitutional entity based on the right for peaceful meetings and freedom of discussion and expression aimed at restoring Egyptians’ rigged votes,” read the foundation statement of the parliament.
“We announce the parliament as a peaceful mean for change in Egypt that prevents the dangers of what could otherwise be a spontaneous explosion of the masses whose consequences’ might get out of control,” the statement added.
The parliament comprises representatives from the Al-Wafd, Al-Ghad, Democratic Front, Al-Tagammu, Al-Karama and communist Parties, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Kefaya Movement for Change, the National Association for Change and a number of civil society groups.
Prominent opposition figures like Ayman Nour, head of Al Ghad party, Hamaden Sabahi, founder of Al-Karama party, former independent MPs Gamal Zahran and Mostafa Bakry and Al-Wafd members Ramy Lakah and Mohamed Sherdy will participate in the parliament.
The parliament also includes public figures like Gamila Ismail, Al Ghad party’s vice president, Hamdy Qandeel, prominent journalist, Abdel Halim Qandeel, former general coordinator of Kefaya, and Mohamed Abul Ghar, founder of March 9 Movement for universities’ independence.
However, Al Wafd party hasn’t announced its official participation in the parliament, saying its members who joined only represent themselves. The party’s higher committee is expected to decide on its official participation this week.
The majority of those present at the conference on Sunday had gathered a month earlier to swear themselves in to an “alternative parliament” at the same time as members of the official parliament took oath on Dec. 13. Bu on Sunday, they refered to it as the “popular” rather than the “alternative” parliament.
According to the statement, the parliament adopts the principles of citizenship, social justice, civil state and democracy.
“Our mission is to monitor legislations presented to the parliament and evaluate them and to revise previous legislations that need modifications like monopoly and real estate taxes law,” said Alaa Abdel Moneim, former Al-Wafd MP and member of the public parliament.
“We will also suggest new legislation that [guarantees] freedom and social justice. And we’ll discuss contemporary problems facing the country and suggest solutions to them,” Abdel Moneim added.
The parliament is also set to present a new constitution to the public as members described the current one as “incapable of keeping up with the political activity in Egypt.”
“A legal team will work on preparing complaints and presenting them to the general prosecutor as well as pursuing legal cases filed against the legitimacy of the current official parliament,” Abdel Moneim said.
Youth movements are set to meet to choose nine members to represent them in the parliament.
“We are in a mission to delegitimize the official parliament through a political, public and constitutional struggle to achieve this goal,” said former Muslim Brotherhood MP Mohamed El-Beltagy.
Participants said that the public parliament isn’t a simulation of the official parliament — which they described as a tool in the hand of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) — but a form of civil disobedience.
“All political streams, including former NDP members are represented in the parliament which we consider a first step in the process of peaceful resistance against the current regime,” said Abdel Halim Qandeel, general coordinator of Kefaya.
The parliament’s first session is set to witness the election of the parliament’s head and the formation of its various committees.