By Mai Shams El-Din
CAIRO: Lawmaker Essam Sultan said Sunday he presented a political exclusion draft law, barring officials of the former regime from practicing politics, as former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman registered his candidacy for the presidential race.
The final list of candidates will be announced on April 26, leaving almost no time for parliament to discuss and issue the proposed law.
“This law can be passed in one day if parliament wants to — laws during [Hosni] Mubarak’s era were passed in one day to exclude opposition,” Sultan told Daily News Egypt on Sunday.
Ahmed Shafiq, former prime minister appointed by the ousted Mubarak during the Jan. 25 uprising, is also running for president, which triggered the ire of Egypt’s political and revolutionary sphere.
The draft law presented by Sultan builds on the Treachery Act passed by late president Gamal Abdel Nasser to politically exclude symbols of late King Farouk’s regime, who fled the country after a military coup in 1952.
Article 1 of the law states that it will be imposed on public officials, ministers, civil servants, parliamentarians and members of local councils who committed or took part in any act likely to corrupt political life and threaten the country’s interests.
Among other criminalized acts is the misuse of power to acquire a public position for oneself or for others.
Sultan’s law adds an article stipulating that any official who held a high-ranking political or consultancy position within the five years before Mubarak stepped down should be politically excluded.
The lawmaker representing Al-Wasat Party demanded in his draft law that the application of any official that fits into these categories for any top post should be revoked even if the law is passed after the application is submitted.
“If the law is passed before April 26, then it is legal to implement it and prevent Suleiman and others from running for presidency,” Sultan said.
“It is [the duty of parliament] before God, the people and history,” Sultan added.
Critics, however, argue that laws cannot be implemented retroactively.
Professor of constitutional law at Cairo University, Raafat Fouda said that three problems stand in the way of passing and implementing this law.
“Laws can only be implemented retroactively when the constitution stipulates so. According to the current constitutional declaration issued in March 2011, laws cannot be issued retroactively,” Fouda said.
The second stumbling bloc, Fouda believes, is the time limit.
“It is almost impossible for parliament to pass such a law before April 26, especially since thousands of draft laws are being discussed … and none of them was passed since parliament’s first session in late January,” he said.
According to the constitutional declaration, Fouda said, after a law is passed by parliament, it should be referred to Cabinet.
“Cabinet then refers it to the president [which is the ruling military junta] to be approved and published in the official newspaper,” Fouda explained.
“I do not believe that the ruling military council will approve it easily — this is a dangerous and highly politicized legislation,” he added.
Cabinet prepared the political exclusion law several times since the ouster of Mubarak but the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) was reluctant to pass it.
SCAF then promised to pass it during clashes between protesters and police forces in Mohamed Mahmoud Street last November to calm down the protesters, but it was never applied.