EPW Week in Brief – November 11, 2018 – November 17, 2018

11/19/2018 . By TIMEP

Summary

  • A group of Egyptian representatives from the British-Egyptian Parliamentary Friendship Group traveled to the United Kingdom to meet with state officials. The parliamentary delegation met with executive and legislative officials in both houses of the U.K. Parliament and with members of the British media to discuss recent political developments in Egypt.
  • Speaker of the House Ali Abdel ‘Al led a parliamentary delegation this past week to Belarus. The group met with parliamentary officials in both houses of the National Assembly of Belarus as well as the Belarusian ambassador to Egypt. Abdel ‘Al signed an agreement calling for technical cooperation between the countries’ respective legislatures.
  • German Bundestag Human Rights Committee Chairwoman Gyde Jensen traveled to Egypt to meet with parliamentary officials, including Abdel ‘Al and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Karim Darwish. Jensen reportedly welcomed the potential amendments to the NGO Law as reducing restrictions on these groups’ working capabilities.

Notable Developments

Representatives Travel to the U.K.:

A delegation[1] comprising Egyptian representatives from the British-Egyptian Parliamentary Friendship Group, a cooperative union consisting of representatives from each country’s respective legislature, visited the U.K. and met with several executive and legislative officials in the U.K. government. The group met separately with House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Tugendhat, and Investment Minister Graham Stuart, among others,[2] and Egyptian media reported that U.K. parliamentary officials praised Egypt for its reform measures, though these reports could not be corroborated in international media. The parliamentary delegation later attended a session of the House of Lords, met with members of the British media to clarify recent developments in Egypt, and concluded their trip by meeting with Minister of State for the Middle East Alistair Burt. Representative Tariq al-Khouli of the Foreign Affairs Committee later claimed that the delegation faced harassment from members of the Muslim Brotherhood and the group’s sympathizers residing in the U.K.

Abdel ‘Al Leads a Parliamentary Delegation to Belarus:

A parliamentary delegation[3] led by Abdel ‘Al traveled to Belarus to meet with several political officials including the speakers of the two houses in the National Assembly of Belarus, Vladimir Andreichenko and Mikhail Miasnikovic, and Belarus’ ambassador to Egypt, Sergey Ratkov. During his meeting with the two parliamentary leaders, Abdel ‘Al signed a memorandum of technical cooperation between their respective legislatures and called for additional Belarusian investments in Egypt. Abdel ‘Al was later recognized with the title of honorary professor during a visit to Belarus State University.

Bundestag Human Rights Committee Chairwoman Visits Parliament:

Chairwoman of the Human Rights Committee in the German Bundestag Gyde Jensen visited Egypt to meet with ranking parliamentary officials. Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Karim Darwish hosted Jensen to discuss improvements to bilateral relations. Jensen previously met with Abdel ‘Al to discuss the potential amendments to the Law Governing Civil Society Organizations, widely known as the NGO Law. Jensen reportedly welcomed the proposed alterations to the law as an initiative to improve the working conditions of civil society organizations in Egypt.

Candidacy Submission Period for Open House Seats Concludes:

National Election Authority (NEA) Spokesman Mahmoud Helmi al-Sharif announced that the commission received paperwork for 42 candidates seeking to fill the three open House seats. Sharif noted that there are 17 candidates (13 independent and four affiliated to a political party) for the open seat in Arish, 14 candidates (13 independent and one party-affiliated) in Zefta, and 11 candidates (nine independent and two party-affiliated) for the available seat in Tamiya. The NEA will verify each candidate’s applications, conduct legal proceedings this week if an appeal to an individual’s candidacy is submitted, and announce the final list of candidates on November 26.

Other Developments

In Legislation:

Representative Ismail Nasr al-Din is forming a draft law that would abolish the religious affiliation field from national identification cards; he attributes Egypt’s growing international prominence to his decision to begin drafting the bill to demonstrate Egypt’s status as a forward-thinking country.

In Session:

Representative al-Badri Ahmed Daif of the Energy Committee submitted a briefing request to Agriculture Minister Ezz al-Din Abu Satit regarding the government’s annual imports of vegetable seeds exceeding $1 billion.

Representative Muhammad Fuad of the Energy Committee submitted a question to Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli and Finance Minister Muhammad Mait on the current inflation rate, 17.7 percent, which is higher than the target 16 percent set by the Central Bank of Egypt.

Fuad submitted a separate briefing request to Abdel ‘Al, Madbouli, and Abu Satit regarding the ministry’s decision not to recognize drought-resistant rice crops, which have been proven effective to grow crops at reduced water quantities.

The Budget Committee approved a presidential decree issuing a new tariff on food supplies such as fish products and fruits.

The Suggestions and Complaints Committee approved multiple requests to renovate several police stations in Alexandria.

Representative Fathi al-Sharqawi of the Local Administration Committee submitted a briefing request to Abdel ‘Al regarding possible corruption with local officials preventing the completion of regional development projects in Kafr al-Sheikh.

In News and Statements:

The Wafd Party’s internal elections for supreme party council were completed over the weekend; results were announced for the 50 council seats and five secretariat positions. Twenty-six members of the Wafd Party submitted a request to party Chairman Bahaa Abu Shoqa to nullify the results of the organization’s high council election that occurred last week over corruption in the process; the list of signatories notably includes Energy Committee Chairman Talaat al-Suweidi. Abu Shoqa stated that the elections for the party’s high council were conducted impartially under the surveillance of the National Council for Human Rights.African Affairs Committee Chairman Tariq Radwan was elected Vice-President of the African Parliamentary Union. Radwan will serve a two-year term.

Parliamentary Spokesman Salah Hassiballah issued a statement on behalf of Abdel ‘Al praising relations between Egypt and Kuwait. This press release comes in light of an ongoing public feud between Safa al-Hashem, a member of the Kuwaiti National Assembly, and Egyptian Immigration Minister Nabila Makram regarding an Egyptian expatriate who was assaulted in Kuwait.

Reprsentative Sherif Nadi organized a meeting with a number of local officials from Minya to discuss the most recent attack on Copts, which occurred on November 2. He stated that justice will not be served unless there is accountability for the attack.

Representative Muhammad al-Ghoul of the Human Rights Committee praised the cabinet’s decision to form the Supreme Council for Human Rights, noting that this new body will contribute to the government’s comprehensive approach to addressing human rights concerns. Similarly, Representative Ali Abdel Wanees of the Human Rights Committee stated that the Supreme Council for Human Rights ought to adopt additional responsibilities beyond responding to international reports about human rights in Egypt.

The Arab Affairs Committee issued a statement praising President Abdel-Fattah El Sisi and other executive officials for their roles in brokering a cease-fire in Palestine.

Representative Yasser Omar Shayba of the Budget Committee stated that the government will purchase cotton from farmers at the previously agreed-upon price, according to a letter that he received from officials within the Ministry of Agriculture.

Representative Mustafa Bakri of the Constitutional Affairs Committee applauded the Saudi investigation into journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder for its transparency while simultaneously condemning Turkish officials for refusing to assist in the investigation. Bakri also accused Turkey of colluding with the United States and Qatar to conspire against Saudi Arabia through the Khashoggi investigation.

African Affairs Committee Chairman Tariq Radwan hosted the new Japanese ambassador in Cairo, Masaki Noke.

Deputy Speaker of the House al-Sayyid al-Sharif hosted Jordan’s ambassador to Egypt, Ali al-Ayad, to discuss bilateral relations and increasing investment opportunities between the two countries.

Abdel ‘Al supported potential metro ticket price hikes, asserting that “fare increases are the only way to maintain and expand metro service.”

Abdel ‘Al stated that government ministers must abide by parliamentary requests to attend general sessions, regardless of whether they agreed to conduct an interview with members of the media.

Representative Fathi al-Sharqawi of the Local Administration Committee asserted that corruption in local development projects originates from governorate leaders.

Looking Ahead

  • The House of Representatives will reconvene in general session on November 25.

[1] The delegation includes Representative Dalia Youssef, Media Committee Chairman Osama Heikal, Representative Ibrahim Hegazi, Representative Muhammad Zakaria Mohi al-Din, Representative Hala Abu Ali, Representative Angie Murad Faheem, and Representative Yasmeen Abu Talib.

[2] The Egyptian delegation also met with Members of Parliament Nia Griffith, Mark Francois (former minister of state for the Armed Forces),  Emily Thornberry, Nick Thomas-Symonds, Priti Patel, and Julian Lewis, as well as State Security Minister Ben Wallace.

[3] The delegation included Abdel ‘Al, Darwish, Economic Affairs Committee Chairman Ahmed Samir, Representative Emani Aziz, Representative Mahmoud Badr, and Representative Ehab al-Ghatati.