Commenting on an article titled “The Secrets Behind the Plan to a Failing Parliament” in Youm7 newspaper published by its editors and editor in chief, Mr. Mohamed Anwar El Sadat, President of the Reform and Development Party, stated that the fact that Parliament is failing is a truth in everyone’s minds, including most of its members. He added that his proof is the continuous absence of parliament members from general and committee sessions, due to their conviction that their presence is ineffective. This phenomenon occurs for the first time in the history of the Egyptian Parliament.
As for the story being promoted about an internal and external conspiracy to fail the Parliament, he stated “those who have shame have died” – an Egyptian proverb implying a lack of honor and shame. He added that such a conspiracy is naive and unbelievable, and merely aims to distract the people from the reality of Parliament and is weaknesses, which has prompted calls from the people and social movements to initiate a referendum for its dissolution. El Sadat added that Parliament has failed because of the absence of the role of its members as stated in the constitution, in addition to the people feeling that Parliament does not represent its interests and aspirations. The Parliament has been preoccupied with imaginary internal struggles without taking into consideration the needs of citizens and without accepting the simplest rule of democracy: accepting criticism and other opinions. An example is the Parliament’s conflict with the media which reached threatening and preventing reporters and newspapers from criticizing it and its Speaker, in addition to legally prosecuting them, which led to the return of fear in the hearts of the people to express their opinions. Additionally, engaging in conflicts with state institutions such as Al-Azhar, the judiciary, and the press by issuing laws that limit their work without seeking or respecting their opinions.
El Sadat clarified that the responsibility for the failing parliament falls on its poor performance and irresponsible practices, which included explicit constitutional and legal violations. Some examples are: stopping the live streaming of its sessions; failing to discuss some proposed bills during the first round of sessions as instructed by the constitution; failing to present approved laws to the Presidency so it can go into effect – the NGO law is a prime example; hegemony and control over the committee chair elections by choosing trustworthy government loyalists; using a threatening language against those who speak loudly against the will of the Speaker and House administration; not enforcing electronic voting, costing the House large sums of money; the inability of Parliament carry out financial accountability by discussing its budget and instead utilizing other entities such as the Central Auditing Agency, which solidifies the idea of overspending and corruption; and finally, refusing to form fact-finding committees to address the responsibility of the government and its agencies in issues of violence, sectarian discrimination, lack of medicine and its high costs in the market, and the mismanagement and loss of pension money.
The House has limited civic engagement by eliminating public hearing sessions for people to discuss their concerns and problems – one of its main roles and has occupied itself with glorifying and supporting the government. For the first time in the history of the Parliament, it has not submitted any questioning requests to the government nor withdrawn trust from any of its ministers. By failing to enforce any of the House’s accountability tools, it has been proven to everyone that the Parliament and its leadership are being externally controlled.
El Sadat pointed that this new conspiracy theory around attempts behind the failing Parliament by individuals and institutions from inside and outside the country is a new tone being used by journalists and politicians. This new tone replaces the older failed conspiracy theory that spread in recent years about the downfall of the country despite everyone’s certainty that Egypt is a strong unified state by its people and its institutions.
El Sadat further affirmed that any patriotic person that loves his country, would not argue the importance of strong independent institutions that help in pushing the wheel of development and establish stability such as the Parliament. Many hoped that Parliament would carry out its independent legislative and supervisory roles, especially under current difficult and challenging circumstances. Unfortunately, however, the modest performance of the House has crushed these hopes and dreams of a Parliamentary role that participates in building a state of justice, equality, and citizenship.
This is a testament to God and to history. I and many others have not lost hope. Egypt will remain.