MPs call for dismissal of Egypt’s int’l cooperation minister

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By Heba Hesham

CAIRO: A number of parliamentarians used a sharp tone on Sunday against Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzoury’s government and called for the dismissal of Minister of International Cooperation Fayza Aboul Naga, after a travel ban was lifted on the foreigners in the NGOs trial, allowing them to leave the country.

Aboul Naga is known as being the driving force behind the NGOs case, in which 43 civil society workers, including 16 Americans, are facing trial, accused of stoking unrest with illicit foreign funding.

The foreign defendants in the case were allowed to leave Egypt Thursday after a travel ban was suddenly lifted, with only one American staying behind. The 14 Egyptian defendants were the only ones who appeared in court for the first session of the trial earlier that week.

Head of the human rights committee of the People’s Assembly, Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat, called upon the head of the ruling military council Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and El-Ganzoury to dismiss Aboul Naga after what the MP called “the dramatic end of the play of the NGOs case by allowing foreign defendants to travel and limiting the expected sentence to a fine.”

“The minister of international cooperation is the main cause of this crisis since she filed a complaint against the civil society organizations and escalated public opinion using the media,” Sadat said in a statement.

On the same token, Farid Ismail, vice head of the defense and national security committee, launched a sharp attack on Aboul Naga, according to MENA news agency.

He said sarcastically that her role before the revolution was questioned while post-revolution, she became more revolutionary than those who gave their lives for the country.

Members of the PA’s committee criticized the entire government for its stance in the NGOs case and for allowing foreign defendants to leave. The MPs demanded accountability for all the parties involved in lifting the travel ban.

El-Sadat said officials must clarify the specifics of the case.

Ismail called for the release of Egyptian prisoners in the US, including Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who is imprisoned without guilt, according to MENA.

Abdel Rahman is serving a life sentence over charges of terrorism.

According to MENA, Ismail stressed that this release should not include swaps with the defendants on the case of foreign funding.

Meanwhile, the PA’s defense and national security committee reiterated calls to withdraw confidence from El-Ganzoury’s Cabinet and to form a coalition government spearheaded by the FJP, the majority party in the PA.

Members of the committee said the government’s statement before the PA on Feb. 26 did not include a real plan to deal with the state of security or the restructuring of the interior ministry, nor did it detail genuine mechanisms to support the ailing economy.

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