Week in Brief – October 14, 2018 – October 20, 2018

10/22/2018 . By TIMEP

Summary

  • The House of Representatives approved President Abdel-Fattah El Sisi’s renewal of the three-month state of emergency. Most representatives supported the decision, though the 25-30 Bloc notably condemned the House’s approval of the executive decision.
  • Representatives defended Saudi Arabia in the controversy over Jamal Khashoggi’s killing. Some parliamentary officials accused Qatar of leading a public campaign to spread false rumors about Saudi Arabia; other representatives criticized the United States for its response to the controversy.
  • Human Rights Committee Chairman Alaa Abed intends to publish a book documenting all cases of foreign funding in Egypt between 2004 and 2018. Abed also asserted that an undisclosed civil society organization received two million euros from German funders to defame Egypt.

Notable Developments

House Approves New State of Emergency:

The House approved Sisi’s bid to renew the state of emergency for a three-month period retroactive to October 15. Representatives were generally supportive of the state of emergency, as Parliamentary Spokesman Salah Hassiballah defended the decision by asserting that the decision does not infringe on civil liberties. While most parliamentary entities supported the decision, the 25-30 Bloc rejected the latest renewal of the state of emergency, stating that the decision disregards the Egyptian Constitution. This is the first instance of a parliamentary organization condemning the state of emergency since the current constitution was ratified in 2014.

Representatives Defend Saudi Arabia in Khashoggi Controversy:

In light of the ongoing situation regarding the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, several representatives defended Saudi Arabia and accused other countries of leading a campaign to defame the kingdom. Deputy Speaker of the House Soleiman Wahdan championed a movement among some representatives in which he accused Qatar of spreading false rumors about Khashoggi as part of a plot against Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, Representative Khaled Salah Abu Zahed recommended a boycott of American goods in response to Trump’s position on the Khashoggi situation.

Abed to Publish Book Documenting Foreign Funding:

Human Rights Committee Chairman Alaa Abed is preparing a book that will list all alleged cases of foreign funding for individuals and organizations between 2004 and 2018. The document will include funds obtained through processes deemed both legal and illegitimate according to Egyptian law. Abed also claimed that an undisclosed civil society organization received over two million euros from German donors to publish information “defaming” the national image of Egypt.

Sisi’s Trip to Russia Draws Representatives’ Praise:

Sisi traveled to Russia, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and delivered a speech before the Russian legislature. Several representatives commented on Sisi’s visit, expressing generally positive comments about recent developments between the two countries and future implications for Egypt. Coalition in Support of Egypt Chairman Abdel Hadi al-Qasbi and Hassiballah, the parliamentary spokesman, were among the many who praised the trip for its promotion of economic development as well as the historical connection between the two countries. Meanwhile, Representative Dalia Youssef noted that Sisi failed to improve his international image by not engaging with Russian civil society actors or business leaders during his visit.

Other Developments

In Legislation:

The House agreed in principle to the Innovator’s Fund Law. The bill establishes a fund for individuals and universities to conduct research. The fund is tax exempt and requires universities to pay a five percent licensing fee into the fund as well as an annual fee amounting to two percent of the school’s respective tuition. The licensing fee is tied to each university’s expected budget for the fiscal year.

The House agreed in principle to the government’s amendments to the Medical Practice Law. The House did not conduct a final vote on the amendments because of a lack of quorum. The bill requires medical professionals to undergo government training and receive a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in order to be registered with the Ministry of Health.

In Session:

The House approved a continuation of the Ethics Committee’s membership composition from the third session. The committee is led by Bahaa Abu Shoqa and also comprises Representatives Hassan Bassiouni, Tharwat Bekheit, Shadi Abul Alaa, Osama Radi, Wahid Qarqar, Khaled Abdel Aziz Shaaban, Muhammad Shayemko, Abla al-Hawari, Sami Ramadan, Marion Azer, Ahmed Sameh Darwish, Muhammad Abdel Wahid, and Salah Hassiballah.

Representative Ahmed Zeidan of the Communications Committee submitted a briefing request to Speaker of the House Ali Abdel ‘Al and Education Minister Tariq Shawqi regarding the cancellation of some classes in the new education system for the remainder of the year.

Representative Shireen Farag of the Foreign Affairs Committee submitted a request to form a parliamentary fact-finding committee regarding air pollution in Cairo and international reports on the subject.

Representative Atef Abdel Gawad of the Suggestions and Complaints Committee inquired of Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli the expected completion date of the online database containing all government services.

Representative Adel Badawi of the Housing Committee submitted an urgent statement to Madbouli and Health Minister Hala Zayed urging the continuation of construction operations for the Bani Mazar Hospital in Minya.

Representative Tariq Mutawali of the Manufacturing Committee submitted a briefing request to Minister of Public Enterprise Sector Hisham Tawfiq regarding the government’s strategy to reinvigorate the pharmaceutical industry.

Representative Nabil Abu Basha of the Manufacturing Committee and Representative Salah al-Hasawi of the Small and Medium Enterprises Committee submitted a joint briefing request to Madbouli, who serves simultaneously as the minister of housing, in regard to the government failing to submit a planning outline for Kafr al-Zayat in Gharbia governorate. They requested that a response be submitted to the Housing Committee for discussion.

Representative Muhammad Saad Temaraz of the Agriculture Committee submitted a briefing request to Madbouli and Agriculture Minister Ezz al-Din Abu Satit regarding water rationing in Beheira governorate and the potential loss of agricultural land.

Representative Mustafa al-Gendi of the African Affairs Committee submitted a briefing request to Abdel ‘Al and Supply Minister Ali al-Maseelhi on the delay of issuing ration cards in several governorates.

Agriculture Committee Chairman Hisham al-Shaini submitted a briefing request to Abu Satit, the agriculture minister, to investigate allegations of corruption amid  agriculture reforms in Qena.

Representative Muhammad Zein al-Din of the Transportation Committee submitted a briefing request to Madbouli regarding how social housing units are sold to citizens by different entities.

In News and Statements:

Representative Ali Abdel Wanees of the Human Rights Committee claimed that there is a plan to create a Ministry of Human Rights during the new legislative session.

Representative Essam al-Safi of the Housing Committee suggested hiring temporary teachers for contracts lasting six to nine months to ease the burden on teaching officials.

African Affairs Committee Chairman Tariq Radwan stated that the committee will form a working body to investigate the detainment of an Egyptian citizen in Nigeria.

Representative Atef Nasser of the Education Committee stated that there will be changes coming to the education system within the next five months, though he did not specify what these changes would include.

Representative Muhammad Saad Temaraz of the Agriculture Committee called for a general discussion in the House about overcrowded classrooms in schools.

Representative Raif Tamraz of the Agriculture Committee proposed the establishment of an agricultural entity that dictates the price and sale of crops in order to avoid a crisis similar to the ongoing cotton issue.

The Nation’s Future Party hosted a parliamentary forum in Sharm el-Sheikh to review recent legislative developments. Coalition in Support of Egypt Chairman Abdel Hadi al-Qasbi called on the political bureau of the bloc to adopt all of the recommendations made at the forum.

Abdel ‘Al traveled to Geneva to participate in the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s meeting on Combating Terrorism. During a meeting at the union, Egypt, represented by Abdel ‘Al, was among several countries that rejected a motion to discuss LGBT rights during the forum.

Defense Committee Chairman Kamal Amer met with Norwegian Ambassador to Egypt Sten Arne Rosnes on Sunday. The two discussed bilateral relations and regional developments in Libya, Syria, and Yemen.

Looking Ahead

  • The Wafd Party will hold its elections for its internal high council on November 9.
  • African Affairs Committee Chairman Tariq Radwan stated that the committee will conduct delegation visits to Ethiopia, Sudan, and Uganda early in November. Radwan added that this is part of the committee’s goal to improve relations with Nile Basin countries.