EPW Week in Brief – July 31-August 14, 2019

08/15/2019 . By TIMEP

Summary

  • Following a car bomb explosion outside of the National Cancer Institute in Cairo on August 4 that killed 20 people, members of Egypt’s House of Representatives condemned terrorism in Egypt. One representative blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for the attack, and others asserted that the attack would not deter Egyptians’ resolve to counter extremism.
  • The International Relations Committee from the Pan-African Parliament convened in Egypt August 5–8 to discuss regional concerns to the institution. Several officials from the Egyptian House spoke at the continental body’s sessions, highlighting Egypt’s diplomatic efforts and counter-terrorism measures within Africa.
  • The Wafd Party expelled former party chairman al-Sayyid al-Badawi for nonpayment of party dues, though Badawi claimed that the decision to remove him from the party was politically charged.

Notable Developments

Representatives Condemn Terrorism Following August 4 Attack:

On  August 4, a car exploded outside of the National Cancer Institute in Cairo killing 20 and wounding 47. The Ministry of Interior subsequently accused the militant group Hassm of perpetrating the attack, though the group denied any involvement. Following the attack, several representatives condemned extremist behavior in Egypt, with one member accusing the Muslim Brotherhood of illicit terrorist activity.Both Health Committee Chairman Muhammad al-Omari and Wafd Party Chairman Bahaa Abu Shoqa asserted that terrorism would not undermine Egyptians’ resolve to combat extremism.

African Parliament Convenes in Egypt:

The House of Representatives hosted the Pan-African Parliament’s International Relations Committee from August 5–8 to discuss regional concerns. Speaking at one of the sessions , African Affairs Committee Chairman Tariq Radwan stated that Egypt is committed to leading diplomacy efforts on the African continent under the leadership of President Abdel-Fattah El Sisi, who is also serving as chairperson of the African Union. At a separate session, Representative Hatem Bashat of the African Affairs Committee asserted that Egypt has played a prominent role in counter-terrorism measures in Africa by engaging with regional partners through information-sharing and ground operations.

Wafd Party Drops Membership of Former Chairman Badawi:

The Wafd Party expelled former party chairman al-Sayyid al-Badawi for failing to pay financial dues to the organization. Badawi dismissed the decision as politically motivated, asserting that current party chairman Abu Shoqa led the movement to drop Badawi’s membership out of fear that Badawi would contest the party’s next internal election.

Other Developments

In Legislation:

As the House is currently on its summer recess, no legislation was approved during the past two weeks.

In Session:

According to a al-Youm al-Sabaa report, representatives received 295 messages on WhatsApp from their constituents during the month of July.

The Defense Committee outlined 13 components to the issue of overpopulation as well as possible solutions, which include raising the legal marriage age, promoting single-child incentives for families, and advocating for responsible family planning within major religious institutions.

In News and Statements:

Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Karim Darwish met with Nathan Sales, coordinator for counter-terrorism at the U.S. Department of State, to discuss joint counter-terror cooperation and security coordination in general between the two countries.

Representative Omar al-Hamroush of the Religious Affairs Committee praised the government and various religious institutions for their efforts in organizing a successful Hajj season for Egyptian residents. Similarly, Parliamentary Spokesman Salah Hasiballah expressed his gratitude to Saudi King Salman and the Saudi government for leading the most recent Hajj season.

Representative Tariq al-Khouli of the Foreign Affairs Committee stated that the presence of multiple Islamist candidates in the Tunisian presidential election, scheduled for September 15, will draw votes from each other and diminish the possibility of an Islamist president.

Khouli also stated that Egyptian-British relations will inevitably improve based on the strong relationship between  Sisi and new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Deputy Speaker of the House Soleiman Wahdan stated that it would be more practical to hold elections for the House of Representatives and the proposed Senate in the same year, 2020, though he did not reveal a timeframe for any legislation creating the  Senate. (The creation of a Senate was approved in a constitutional referendum in April of this year, but the amendments did not specify an election period.) Wahdan also noted that parliamentary elections will be held following the conclusion of the fifth legislative session in June 2020.

Looking Ahead

  • According to al-Youm al-Sabaa, four primary goals of the Foreign Affairs Committee during the upcoming legislative session will include improving bilateral relations with the new government in the United Kingdom, focusing on regional files such as Libya and Sudan, working on emerging markets such as Latin America, and consolidating diplomatic efforts within the committee.