Egypt’s parliament meets, elects new speaker

January 11, 2016  

Egypt’s parliament on Sunday met for the first time in more than three years, Reuters reported, electing a constitutional expert as its speaker.

The new speaker is Ali Abdelaal, a French-educated lawyer who helped draft the constitution and election law, is a member of the “Support Egypt” coalition, an alliance of over 400 MPs loyal to President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

As speaker, Abdelaal is now first in the line of succession in case of the death or permanent incapacity of the president, until new elections are held.

He quickly moved to impose his authority over the traditionally chaotic and unruly body, according to Reuters.

“I know the constitution by heart. I wrote this constitution, nobody holds it up to me,” he barked at a lawmaker who spoke out of turn to insist parliament was constitutionally obliged to elect deputy speakers in its first session after Abdelaal moved to adjourn it.

Before Sisi’s announcement of parliamentary elections in August, Egypt had been without a parliament since June 2012 when a court dissolved the democratically elected main chamber, dominated at the time by the Muslim Brotherhood which won the first democratic elections in the country since the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak.

A year later, Mubarak’s elected successor, Mohammed Morsi of the now blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood, was himself overthrown by the military led by Sisi after mass protests against his rule in June 2013.

The newly elected legislature has 15 days to approve hundreds of laws issued by executive decree during the period when it was suspended, according to Reuters.

Dominated by Sisi loyalists, it has 568 elected members plus another 28 appointed directly by him. It was chosen in elections that critics said were undermined by a security crackdown on Islamist and other opposition groups.

Abdelaal helped author the election law on which the parliament was elected last October and November, according to the news agency.

Since Mori’s ouster, Egyptian courts have sentenced hundreds of alleged Brotherhood supporters to death as part of a crackdown on the blacklisted group, many in mass trials condemned by foreign governments and rights groups as violating international law.

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