Political parties debate no-confidence vote against Egypt government

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By Heba Fahmy

CAIRO: Political parties and figures are divided over a possible no-confidence vote against Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzoury’s government.

Several parties, including the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), which holds around 47 percent of the seats in the People’s Assembly, are considering passing a no-confidence vote against the Cabinet of Ministers.

“Either the government provides solutions for the people’s day-to-day problems or it has failed as a government and we remove it,” FJP MP Sobhi Saleh told Daily News Egypt on Wednesday.

Criticism against the government has heightened after El-Ganzoury’s statement to parliament on Sunday, focusing on the worsening economic conditions rather than addressing swift solutions to improve security and the economy.

“We are under a lot of pressure from the people who want solutions to their problems, not void statements,” Saleh said.

The PA’s reaction to El-Ganzoury’s statement will be announced next week, after it is discussed by the subcommittees, who will present their recommendations to the PA, according to Saleh.

Other parties including Al-Wasat, El-Adl and the Egyptian Social Democratic Party supported the FJP’s “serious consideration” of passing a no-confidence vote against.

“The FJP needs to take responsibility as the party which has the most PA seats and establish a new government that represents the people and serves them,” Tarek Al-Malt, spokesperson of Al-Wasat Party, told DNE.

Appointed by the military council last November, El-Ganzoury is due to stay in office until mid-year, when power is handed over to an elected president by the end of June.

Last Sunday, the premier reviewed the Cabinet’s performance during the transitional period and its efforts to overcome obstacles.

He said police has been returning to the streets after the security vacuum that plagued the country in the wake of the uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak last year.

But this came at a time when several armed attacks on prominent political figures were reported over the last week, including presidential hopeful Abdel Moneim Abol Fotoh, MP Hassan El-Brins of the FJP and, most recently, MP Anwar El-Belkimi of the Salafi Al-Nour Party.

El-Belkimi was attacked at dawn Wednesday on the desert road on his way from Cairo to Sadat City, according to the Middle East State News Agency (MENA).

Five armed thugs stole his car and LE 100,000. El-Belkimi was beaten unconscious and transferred to the hospital for treatment.

“Crime and violence have hiked under El-Ganzoury’s government ever since mass protests called for handing over power to civilian authority on Jan. 25,” Karima El-Hifnawy, secretary general of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, said.

“The least we can do with this government is pass a vote of no-confidence,” she added.

A ‘useless’ vote

On the other side, Nader Bakkar, spokesperson of Al-Nour, said his party — with 25 percent of the seats — was more inclined to let the current government see out its term.

“Changing governments a lot could have a negative effect on the country,” he said.

Three governments have taken office following the 18-day revolt that toppled Mubarak including one headed by Ahmed Shafiq, Essam Sharaf and finally El-Ganzoury. They were all assigned by the ruling military council.

Rifaat Al-Saeid, head of Al-Tagammu Party — member of the Egyptian Bloc which garnered 33 seats out of 498 — said that although his party wasn’t a fan of El-Ganzoury’s statements, they don’t support calls to sack the government.

“The FJP already dominates the parliament and will in turn dominate the election of the constituent assembly…we don’t want it to control a new interim government as well,” he said.

The Egyptian Bloc is an electoral alliance led by the liberal Free Egyptians Party and includes the Egyptian Social Democratic and the leftist Al-Tagammu parties.

MP Mohamed Abou Hamed, of the Free Egyptians Party, said that they were more focused on electing the constituent assembly, rather than arguing over the government.

“Our main battle now is electing the constituent assembly and writing the new constitution,” Abou Hamed said.

The PA and Shoura Council will convene on Saturday morning to start procedures to elect the 100-member constituent assembly, which will be responsible for drafting the new constitution.

PA Speaker Saad El-Katatny said Wednesday that electing the constituent assembly wouldn’t depend on the majority of parliament, as the majority could change from one term to the other.

He added, during a visit to the Shoura Council to congratulate Ahmed Fahmy as its elected head, that no political parties represented in the parliament would be excluded from being members of the constituent assembly, according to MENA.

Al-Wafd, which won 66 seats, deemed passing a no-confidence vote “useless” at this point.

“By the time they form a new government that is approved by the people, and it starts taking up its responsibilities, the new president will have been elected,” senior Al-Wafd Party member Wafiq El-Ghitany said.

“Once the president is elected, a new government will be assigned,” he added.

PA in the constitution

Last week, the FJP criticized the Cabinet’s failure to deal with security and the economy.

El-Katatny said on Feb. 19 that El-Ganzoury’s statements would determine the future of this government.

Amr Hashem Rabie, expert at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, told Tahrir newspaper on Sunday that the constitutional declaration which governs Egypt in the current period does not give parliament the right to withdraw confidence from the Cabinet.

However, lawyer and professor of constitutional law at Cairo University, Raafat Fouda disagreed, citing an article in the constitutional decree stating that the PA would take over its responsibilities in legislating laws and holding the government accountable for its actions, after its election.

“One of the main aspects of the PA’s responsibilities is interrogating the government and passing a vote of no-confidence if it’s proven guilty,” Fouda said.

Al-Saeid, of the Tagammu Party, echoed Rabie’s opinion.

The Brotherhood and the its political wing the FJP have floated the idea of establishing a “salvation government” for weeks now, even before El-Ganzoury’s statement.

“These statements have been a warning to the current government so it can take responsibility for its actions and provide us with answers,” Saleh said.

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