Week in Brief – July 1, 2018 – July 7, 2018

07/09/2018 . By TIMEP

Summary

  • Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli presented the cabinet’s agenda to the House of Representatives this week. Madbouli spoke about the major concerns of the cabinet for the next four years. His speech was met with acclaim throughout the legislature, as representatives praised the agenda for its holistic nature encompassing numerous political and social concerns.
  • After the cabinet’s agenda was presented to the House, Speaker Ali Abdel ‘Al formed a special committee mandated to discuss the platform and develop a report to approve the agenda per Article 146 of the constitution. The committee consists of 23 representatives led by Deputy Speaker al-Sayyid al-Sharif, who broke the group into five sub-committees to debate specific portions of the agenda. The group is expected to complete and present its report to the general legislature during the next plenary session on July 15.
  • The House agreed in principle to a law granting senior military commanders immunity from legal charges stemming from any potential crimes between July 3, 2013, and the House’s reconvening in January 2016. Members of the military must be appointed by President Abdel-Fattah El Sisi for a lifetime term in order to be eligible for the legal immunity.

Notable Developments

Representatives Laud New Cabinet Agenda:

Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli presented the cabinet’s agenda to the legislature during general session Monday; the speech outlined six major axes that the cabinet will emphasize over the course of the next four years. Representatives praised the agenda for its holistic approach to addressing a variety of national concerns. Parliamentary Spokesman Salah Hassiballah and Representative Mustafa Bakri were both enthralled by the economic development plans within the agenda, which called for further reductions in unemployment while continuing to promote foreign investments. Meanwhile Religious Affairs Committee Chairman Osama al-Abd and Free Egyptians Party Parliamentary Chairman Ayman Abul Alaa called upon the cabinet to stress the Education and Health sectors, as Sisi previously alluded to in his inauguration speech.

House Subcommittee Deliberates Cabinet’s New Agenda:

During the legislature’s most recent general session, representatives initially failed to meet quorum until Abdel ‘Al warned parliamentarians to attend plenary session or face consequences. He outlined several potential punishments, including closing the lobby outside of the House’s chambers during general session, listing the names of absent deputies on the chamber doors, releasing names of continuously absent representatives to their constituents and the media, and subjecting deputies to the previously installed internal punishments of parliament based on the body’s bylaws. No representatives were publicly admonished for their absence following general session last week.

Representatives Blame Football Association for World Cup Performance:

Following Prime Minister Madbouli’s speech before the House, Abdel ‘Al formed a specialized committee tasked with discussing the cabinet’s agenda and creating a report for the general legislature to approve per Article 146 of the Constitution. The special committee, led by the House’s Deputy Speaker al-Sayyid al-Sharif, consists of 23 representatives including Wafd Party Chairman Bahaa Abu Shoqa, Muhammad al-Suweidi of the Coalition in Support of Egypt, and Atef Nasser of the Nation’s Future Party. Sharif split the group into five subcommittees focused on deliberating a specific portion of the agenda; the five subcommittees include National Security and Foreign Affairs, Cultural Development, Economic Development, Employment Levels, and Standard of Living. The various subcommittees are expected to finalize a comprehensive report by July documenting their opinion of the cabinet’s agenda. Following completion of the report, the special committee will present its findings to the full House in the next general session on July 15, after which the House has 10 days to approve the agenda per Article 146 of the Constitution.

New Law Grants Legal Immunity for Military Commanders:

The House approved in principle an Amnesty Law for Senior Commanders in the Armed Forces, which grants a group of military officers legal immunity for any acts committed between the Constitution’s suspension on July 3, 2013 until the House reconvened in January 2016. The timeframe of the law clears officials from any crimes committed, for example, during the violent dispersal of sit-ins at Raba’a al-Adaweya and al-Nahda Squares in August 2013, when hundreds of pro-Muslim Brotherhood supporters were killed by members of the Armed Forces. In addition to granting legal immunity to senior military officials, the law also stipulates that commanders appointed by the president must serve in their position for the duration of their lifetime in order to fall under the bill’s jurisdiction.

Other Developments

In Legislation:

The House approved Presidential Decree No. 174 in regards to the USAID-Egypt funding package, which provides $29 million to Egypt to promote family planning and other general components of the health sector.

The House approved amendments to the Customs Law in principle. The amendments include harsher punishments for smuggling charges and outline new shipping regulations.

The House approved Representative Mervat al-Kasan’s amendments to the Income Tax Law, which imposes a 2.5 percent tax on the property value of newly constructed residential units other than units located in rural villages.

The House approved the government’s amendments to the Tenders and Auctions Law in principle, which establishes new regulations and promotes performance standards as opposed to general guidelines for the pertinent administrative body.

Representative Muhammad al-Husseini of the Local Administration Committee submitted a draft law abolishing the General Authority for Literacy and Adult Education and creating other initiatives to promote literacy skills.

The Religious Affairs Committee approved Article 8 of Representative Muhammad Shaaban’s Media Regulations for Religious Figures Law; the article fines religious figures from 20,000 to 100,000 Egyptian pounds (LE) for making a media appearance without obtaining permission. The committee also approved Article 10 of the law, which fines media outlets between LE50,000 and LE500,000 for hosting a religious figure without obtaining the proper license.

Representative Nashwa al-Deeb submitted a bill establishing a childcare fund to promote the interests of marginalized children in cases of abuse, trafficking, and drugs. The law establishes a council with its own independent budget to oversee the general welfare of children in these situations.

In Session:

The House approved the Constitutional Affairs Committee’s decision to maintain Representative Mortada Mansour’s immunity despite requests by the public prosecutioninto two separate matters regarding financial mishandlings. In its report on the situation, the Constitutional Affairs Committee wrote that the repeated requests to lift Mansour’s immunity indicate malicious intent on behalf of his accusers.

Abdel ‘Al refused to entertain the notion of building refugee centers in Egypt based on what he believed was a lack of effort on the part of European countries to assist refugees compared to Egypt’s prior endeavors.

A group of representatives from the Tourism Committee visited a public library in Matrouh along with the governor of Matrouh.

Representative Magdi Malek of the Agriculture Committee submitted a briefing request to Abdel ‘Al to inquire to the Prime Minister about the water shortage in the Minya governorate.

The Health Committee met on two separate occasions this week to discuss the government’s plan for implementing the comprehensive health insurance program, as well as to discuss family planning programs and general reproductive health initiatives.

In News and Statements:

Housing Committee Chairman Moataz Muhammad called Egypt’s natural gas exports an unprecedented step for the country’s economic development.

The Human Rights Committee met with Canadian Ambassador to Egypt Jess Dutton, who probed the committee about prominent detainees in Egypt. Committee member Soulaf Darwish responded by asserting that any detainees were subject to proper judicial processes.

A delegation of the Egyptian and French Foreign Affairs Committee met and discussed bilateral relations between the two countries, especially in terms of parliamentary diplomacy.

Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tariq Radwan discussed bilateral cooperation and parliamentary dynamics during a meeting with the Russian Ambassador to Egypt. In related news, the committee is considering a delegation visit to Russia at the beginning of the fourth session of parliament in October.

Egypt and the United Arab Emirates formed a parliamentary friendship group to strengthen bilateral relations and promote cooperation in a variety of regional, international, and bilateral fields.

 

Looking Ahead

  • The House will reconvene in general session on July 15.