PA to discuss amending political rights participation law Thursday

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By Safaa Abdoun

CAIRO: The People’s Assembly will hold an emergency session Thursday to discuss the inclusion of an article that pertains to banning members of the ousted regime to the already existing law regulating political rights participation.

A joint session was held between the legislation and constitution committee and the complaints and suggestions committee after the PA voted on including an article stipulating that any official who held a high-ranking political or consultancy position within the 10 years before the ouster of Mubarak should be politically excluded.

This came as MPs found an amendment of an existing law to be easier and less prone to appeals than drafting a new law, whose proposed text would have only disqualified two presidential candidates: Omar Suleiman, former vice president and ex-intelligence chief, and Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister appointed by ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

“I recommend that we add an article or clause to the law barring officials of the former regime from practicing politics,” said liberal MP Amr Hamzawy.

“The law should bar those who held positions as president, vice president, prime minister, head or secretary general of the National Democratic Party; this will not be tailored for a certain candidate but those who have ruined the political life in Egypt,” he explained.

Lawmaker Essam Sultan, from Al-Wasat Party, who presented the political exclusion draft law, supported Hamzawy’s suggestion.

Other leading MPs such as Hussein Ibrahim and Mohamed El-Beltagi from the Freedom and Justice Party, which controls the majority at the parliament, echoed the same suggestion.

Consequently, PA speaker Saad El-Katatny adjourned Wednesday’s session, which was held to discuss the initially proposed political exclusion draft law.

In addition to skepticism pertaining to strength of a political exclusion law against appeals contesting its constitutionality, MPs had other reservations.

Some dismissed the idea of drafting a law pertaining to former members of the ousted regime and suggested leaving it up to the people instead.

“Let’s not put the PA in an awkward position like what happened with the Constituent Assembly and issue a law that will be later ruled by court as unconstitutional,” said MP Marian Malak.

“The people are free, these are the people who brought you here and toppled the regime and will not bring it back,” she added.

Some MPs adamantly rejected the law for being unconstitutional.

“The draft law violates Articles 19, 20 and 26 of the constitutional declaration which the people voted on,” said MP Ehab Ramzy.

“The law can’t be executed in a retroactive effect except with a court ruling,” he said. Ramzy also explained that they as MPs have vowed to rule by the constitution and the draft law is unconstitutional.

Hamzawy said previous verdicts by the constitutional court provide a precedent that would allow a newly issued law to be applied on the presidential candiates.

Independent MP Mostafa Bakry is also among those who opposed the law and tried to abort the discussion citing what he described as faulty procedure.

Wednesday’s emergency session was marred by a commotion caused by Bakry who said that the legislation and constitution committee’s approval of the law violates PA bylaws as 23 members were absent from the session.

El-Katatny dismissed the issue after establishing that 31 out of 39 members of the committee attended the session where the draft law was discussed and an initial approval was passed.


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