Week in Brief – July 8, 2018 – July 14, 2018

07/18/2018 . By TIMEP

Summary

  • The special committee in the House of Representatives tasked with debating the cabinet’s agenda approved the program by a vote of 274. After debating the agenda and developing recommendations for the cabinet, Committee Chairman al-Sayyid al-Sharif delivered the body’s final report on the agenda to Speaker of the House Ali Abdel ‘Al before presenting the findings to the general body of parliament.
  • The House approved the three media bodies laws in their entirety after previously agreeing to them in principle on June 10. The three laws regulate national media institutions, private broadcasting companies, and all other forms of media. After mandatory review by State Council and comments volunteered from the Press Syndicate, several articles of the law were changed; notably, the final version of the law removes prison sentences for most charges related to publication offenses.
  • In light of hearings in the United States House of Representatives on whether to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist entity, representatives in the Egyptian House called upon Congress to label the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.

Notable Developments

Special Committee Approves Cabinet’s Agenda:

The special committee tasked with reviewing the cabinet’s agenda met several times last week to deliberate the program. The five subcommittees assigned to debate different components of the agenda issued separate recommendations following their assessments of the specific issue area, including increasing measures to revitalize the tourism industry, expanding social welfare programs and collaboration with civil society groups to assist marginalized individuals, and offering new economic development programs, especially among youth. The special committee met with representatives from the cabinet to discuss the cumulative program and offer recommendations. Following this meeting, the special committee voted and approved the agenda by a 27–4 tally.[1] Special Committee Chairman al-Sayyid al-Sharif delivered the committee’s final report to Speaker Ali Abdel ‘Al to review the body’s findings in advance of presenting the report to the general legislature.

In addition to the special committee tasked with reviewing the cabinet’s agenda, other parliamentary bodies offered their opinions of the platform. Committees including Local Administration, Defense, and Economic Affairs were generally positive in their assessments of the government’s programs, though they noted a lack of funding mechanisms and few private-sector economic development projects as significant flaws within the agenda. Similarly, parliamentary chairman of the Free Egyptians Party Ayman Abul Alaa noted the party’s general approval of the agenda and mentioned the inadequate measures to address the tourism industry.

House Approves Controversial Media Laws:

The House voted in general session to approve the National Press Institutions Law, National Media Law, and Supreme Council for Media Regulation Law in their entirety after previously agreeing to the laws in principle on June 10. The three laws regulate state-owned media, media broadcasting companies, and independent media platforms respectively. The Press Syndicate had raised objections to various components of the laws, and upon its mandatory review of the law for constitutionality during this step, the State Council offered recommendations. Ultimately, the House Media Committee adopted some, but not all, of these recommendations, as well as made additional changes to the laws outside of them. The most substantive change was that which struck provisions for detention of journalists, outlawing jail sentences for publication related-offenses, except for cases inciting violence, discriminating between citizens, or defaming individuals.[2]

Representatives Praise U.S. Congress in Light of Muslim Brotherhood Hearing:

The U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Subcommittee held a hearing to debate whether the U.S. should label the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist entity. This hearing was well received by members of Egypt’s House, who lauded Congress for its endeavors. Representatives, notably Osama Radi of the Defense Committee, requested that Congress designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist entity in light of the wave of terrorism in Egypt that the government attributes to the Brotherhood.

Other Developments

In Legislation:

The House approved the Military Commanders Immunity Law after previously agreeing to it in principle on July 3; no changes were made to the previous draft. The bill grants legal immunity to select senior military commanders for any crimes committed between the suspension of the constitution (July 3, 2013) and the reconvening of the House (January 10, 2016), per Sisi’s discretion.

In Session:

Representative Ahmed Ali Ibrahim of the Housing Committee submitted a proposal to Abdel ‘Al to establish a metro stop between al-Marg and Ezbet al-Nakhl in Cairo.

A delegation from the Media Committee visited the Greco-Roman Museum in Alexandria to assess progress made based on the committee’s recommendations for the museum last year.

The Youth Committee stressed the need for the Egyptian Football Association to develop an improved strategy for the international team to avoid similar results in future World Cup tournaments.

Representative Mahmoud Atia submitted a briefing to the minister of local development to address the suspension of natural gas delivery and water sanitation in parts of Qalyubia.

Representative Sharif al-Wardani submitted a briefing to the minister of health in regard to the increase of medical services in public hospitals.

Representative Muhammad Hamdi Dessouki of the Suggestions and Complaints Committee submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to establish consulates for Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in Assiut.

Representative Hani Mergan of the Social Solidarity Committee called for the establishment of a fact-finding committee to investigate the fire that occurred at al-Hussein University Hospital.

A parliamentary delegation from the Toruism Committee, led by committee member Muhammad Abduh visited a number of locations in Matruh to assess the area’s prospective tourism opportunities.

In News and Statements:

Following an automobile accident in Matruh in which 10 people were killed and an additional 25 injured, Representative Soleiman al-Amiri of the Local Administration Committee asserted that the government is unequipped to handle the multitude of traffic problems nationwide.

Arab Affairs Committee Chairman Saad al-Gamal called the European Union’s statement on Djibouti and Uganda failing to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir “provocative.”

Representative Samir Bateekhi of the Youth and Sports Committee stated that the government must resolve the transportation crisis and lack of adequate facilities in order to submit its bid to host the 2030 World Cup and the 2032 Olympics.

Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tariq Radwan and his accompanying delegation met with their counterparts in the Cypriot parliament to discuss bilateral relations as well as the ongoing Israel-Palestine issue.

A delegation from the World Bank met with Abdel ‘Al to discuss the current economic reform program in Egypt.

Representative Tadrus Qaldus of the Communications Committee stated that public awareness about overpopulation must be increased in regard to the danger it represents for Egypt.

The Foreign Affairs Committee met with Canada’s ambassador to Egypt, Jess Dutton, Sunday; the two sides discussed bilateral and parliamentary relations.

Looking Ahead

  • Despite parliament concluding general session this weekend, several committees, including the Energy and Health Committees, will be meeting next week to discuss prominent legislation and the cabinet’s agenda.

[1] The four dissenting representatives were Diya al-Din Daoud, Ehab Mansour, Muhammad Badrawi, and al-Sayyid Abdel ‘Al.

[2] For additional TIMEP coverage of the bills, see Legal and Judicial Director Mai El-Sadany’s analysis here and previous Egypt Parliament Watch coverage.