By Safaa Abdoun
CAIRO: The People’s Assembly’s (PA) legislation and constitution committee gave initial approval ahead of the discussion of the political exclusion draft law at the PA’s late session on Tuesday.
Lawmaker Essam Sultan from Al-Wasat Party presented a political exclusion draft law, barring officials of the former regime from practicing politics. Last Sunday as former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman registered his candidacy for the presidential race.
The draft law was approved by the complaints and suggestions committee and was then referred to the legislation and constitution committee, according to MP Talaat Marzouk.
Several MPs on Tuesday requested a special session be dedicated to the discussion of the law, while expressing concerns about its text, which some MPs described as specifically tailored to exclude Suleiman and Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister appointed by Mubarak, from the race.
The PA will convene on Wednesday at 3 pm to resume the discussion.
“We are doing all the procedures as fast as possible in order to approve the law and execute it right away,” Marzouk said.
The final list of presidential 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 it to — laws during [Hosni] Mubarak’s era were passed in one day to exclude opposition,” Sultan told Daily News Egypt on Sunday.
Suleiman and Shafiq’s decision to run for president triggered the ire of Egypt’s political and revolutionary sphere.
Meanwhile, the PA has been extensively discussing the government’s annual report for two days. On Tuesday, it passed a law extending the current term of syndicates to allow the MPs time to issue a new law regulating syndicates and unions before the election of new boards. It also discussed changes to the law allowing referral of civilians to military courts.
The MPs, however, have repeatedly urged the approval of the draft law pertaining to the presidential election, in order to prevent the likes of Suleiman and Shafiq from entering the race.
“The revolution called for change, freedom and social justice,” said MP Ziad El-Elaimy, from the Social Democratic Party, in his comment to the PA.
“Did this happen with Mubarak’s figures still in power? Did we get freedom when more than 12,000 revolutionaries are facing military trials?” he asked. “Mubarak’s [military] council appointed Mubarak’s cabinet so that the ‘third party’ can come into power, and so Omar Suleiman can run in the election.”
On the other hand, outspoken independent MP Mostafa Bakry rejected the draft law, telling the press it is tailored to prevent one person from joining the presidential election: Suleiman.
Bakry conducted a one-on-one interview with Suleiman, in which the candidate denied having the support of Egypt’s military rulers and accused Islamists of sending him death threats.
On his part, the Minister of Justice, Adel Abdel Hamid, said that the law proposed by Sultan will most likely be unconstitutional.
Political analyst, Nabil Abdel Fattah, from Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said he is not optimistic that the law will be passed.
“Since the PA convened in January all it has done is draft laws and discuss them. They are yet to walk the talk,” he said.
“For the law to be implemented, it must be approved by the Cabinet of Ministers as well as the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which will most likely not support it,” Abdel Fattah explained.
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.
The draft law includes 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.
Cabinet had 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 never saw the light.