Week in Brief – August 12, 2018 – August 25, 2018

08/27/2018 . By TIMEP

Summary

  • Following the death of Representative Rifaat Gawda Youssef and resignation of Representative Talaat Khalil, there are currently three open seats in the House of Representatives. Youssef died following a medical procedure, while Khalil resigned in protest of the government’s inaction after two children drowned in the Suez Canal.
  • Legal charges were filed against Representative Haytham al-Hariri in light of his interview with satellite channel al-Araby criticizing Egypt’s economic reforms and the loan with the International Monetary Fund. The investigating lawyer in the case also submitted a request to raise Hariri’s legal immunity in order to continue the investigation.

Notable Developments

Number of Open Seats in House Reaches Three:

The number of available seats in the House reached three, following the resignation of Representative Talaat Khalil and death of Representative Rifaat Gawda Youssef. Khalil resigned from parliament on August 20 in protest of the government’s investigation following the death of two children who drowned in the Suez Canal. Khalil criticized what he perceived to be the government’s inadequate measures taken to complete a thorough investigation by delegating the task to a drinking water facility as opposed to a more prominent investigatory authority. Khalil, a member of the 25-30 Bloc and an outspoken critic of the regime, publicized his resignation on his personal Facebook page, though parliamentary officials rejected his letter, stating that Khalil must follow the proper resignation procedures in order to vacate his seat. Youssef died August 12 following complications during a heart procedure. There has not been any discussion regarding special elections for either seat.

Legal Charges Filed Against Hariri:

A lawsuit was filed against Representative Haytham al-Hariri for defaming the state in his interview with satellite channel al-Araby. Hariri criticized Egypt’s economic reform program and the process in which the $12 billion loan from the IMF was ratified. The investigating lawyer, Nasser al-Dahshan, also submitted a request to Speaker of the House Ali Abdel ‘Al to lift Hariri’s parliamentary immunity in order to complete the investigation.

Other Developments

In Legislation:

Representative Muhammad Fuad submitted an amendment to the Egyptian Penal Code that would imprison child abductors for a minimum of 10 years, 15 to 20 years if ransom or some form of financial bribery is involved, and life imprisonment or a death sentence if the child is harmed during abduction.

Representative Tharia al-Sheikh of the Economic Affairs Committee submitted a draft law regulating government contracts with legal entities outside of the government’s administrative reach. The draft law establishes a limit on the number of nonpublic officials that can work as advisers within each department, while requiring that consultants meet specific criteria including age, years of expertise in the field, and specific length of contracting obligations.

The Housing Committee submitted a draft law, known as the Returns Law, to the Ministry of Finance as an alternative proposal to the Real Estate Tax Law. The draft law outlines the taxation process for properties based on whether it is commercial or residential and on the size of the land.

The Manpower Committee returned the draft New Work Law to the Ministry of Manpower and Immigration to amend components of the bill regarding the rights of women and children in the workforce. The New Work Law, if passed, will grant women maternity leave for a period of four months and requires employees to sign four separate contracts with an employer at the beginning of employment.

In Session:

Representative Yesri al-Assiuti of the Local Administration Committee submitted a briefing request to Abdel ‘Al to inquire to the Ministry of Local Development about its plans to manage garbage collection. Assiuti submitted a separate request to the Ministry of Local Development regarding traffic congestion and the ministry’s plan to ease congestion along major roads.

Representative Muhammad al-Husseini of the Local Administration Committee submitted a request to Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli to permit the Armed Forces Engineering Authority to assume control in solving the ongoing water crisis in Giza.

Representative Muhammad Salim of the Constitutional Affairs Committee submitted a request to the Ministry of Petroleum to expedite the delivery process of natural gas to the town of Kom Ombo.

Abdel ‘Al directed Representative Tariq al-Khouli to hold a special parliamentary session with experts to discuss solutions to the national issue of arranged marriages.

In News and Statements:

Representative Radwan al-Ziati of the Nation’s Future Party  resigned from the party after ignoring requests to centralize membership within the organization, though he rescinded his resignation after meeting with prominent officials in the party.

Representative Sharif al-Wardani of the Human Rights Committee claimed that the United States creates double standards for terrorism indicative by the decision to grant asylum to Ahmed Abdel Basit, who Wardani alleges is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Abdel Basit, a high school teacher in the United States, fled Egypt in 2016 after being sentenced to death on terrorism-related charges, and was granted asylum on August 21.

Representative Medhat al-Sharif of the Economic Affairs Committee accused the previous cabinet under former prime minister Sherif Ismail of intentionally disrupting the legislative process of some bills submitted by parliamentarians; Sharif specifically referred to the Whistleblower and Witness Protection Law proposed by representatives in 2016 during the second legislative session.

Representative Khaled Hilali of the Health Committee stated that the Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan includes three major administrative bodies: the first focuses on the number of operational medical facilities, the second develops different health-care programs within the facilities, and the last group monitors the quality of the previous two and serves as an accrediting body.

Constitutional Affairs Committee Chairman Bahaa Abu Shoqa stated that the House will form a joint committee consisting primarily of members from his committee and the Social Solidarity, Economic Affairs, and Housing Committees to study Egypt’s overpopulation problem.

Manpower Committee Chairman Gibali al-Murghali estimated that the number of irregular (i.e., temporary) employees in the workforce amounted to 15 million.

A group from the Coalition in Support of Egypt is coordinating with the government to establish an agricultural processing facility in Upper Egypt costing about 1 billion Egyptian pounds (LE).

Representative Khaled Hilali of the Health Committee called for a fact-finding committee to investigate unlicensed addiction treatment centers.

Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tariq Radwan stated that the committee will conduct several international delegations to European countries during the fourth legislative session, though he did not indicate specific countries.

Representative Hala Abul Saad of the Manufacturing Committee called for harsher penalties for verbal harassment cases against women, noting that Egyptian women are not at liberty to dress as they want because they fear harassment.

The Nation’s Future Party organized a medical convoy in various villages throughout Ismailia.

Deputy Speaker of the House Soleiman Wahdan stated that the House will request the cabinet’s first quarterly report on the success of its agenda at the beginning of the fourth legislative session.

Representative Muhammad Fuad of the Budget Committee blamed the governor of Giza for the water shortage in the governorate; Fuad attributed the shortage to a water deficit and inadequate sewer systems.

Human Rights Committee Chairman Alaa Abed will submit a request to Abdel ‘Al to begin holding committee sessions in September rather than continue parliamentary recess in order to start conducting field visits to prisons and villages nationwide.

Abdel ‘Al hosted India’s ambassador to Egypt, Rahul Kulshreshth. The two officials spoke about increasing joint cooperation and parliamentary relations between both countries.

Abdel ‘Al expressed Egypt’s desire to support its parliamentary colleagues in Yemen during a meeting with Yemeni President Abd Rabo Mansour Hadi; Abdel ‘Al also affirmed Egypt’s commitment to the current government in Yemen.

Nation’s Future Party Secretary-General Hossam al-Khouli noted that the organization plans to open party headquarters in each governorate.

Looking Ahead

  • Abdel ‘Al will host Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang on Monday to discuss economic cooperation and bilateral relations.