Monday,23 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1266, (15 - 21 October 2015)
Monday,23 October, 2017
Issue 1266, (15 - 21 October 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Why now?

In the past few weeks, in advance of the long-awaited parliamentary elections, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi has issued several laws. Reem Leila reports on why the president could not wait

Al-Ahram Weekly

President Abdel-Fattah recently issued a set of laws related to education, airplane tickets, weapons and ammunition. Some political experts and activists believe there is no need to issue such laws before the election of a new parliament that will be responsible for issuing and approving laws. Voting for the new parliament begins next week.

At the end of last month, the president issued a decree amending Articles 12 and 16 of Law 394/1954 requiring the approval of the Ministry of Defence, along with that of the Interior Ministry, on arms deals and the amounts allowed when importing weapons and ammunition. The law also gives the Ministry of Interior the right to reject the importation of certain types of ammunition.

The president issued a presidential decree on 7 October which will sentence to a year in jail anyone who leaks confidential school exam papers and a fine ranging between LE20,000 and LE50,000. The decree was issued after the recent leak of thanaweya amma or senior high school exams online.

The following day, on 8 October, Al-Sisi issued a presidential decree raising taxes on airplane tickets to LE150 from LE100 for economy-class tickets, and LE400 from LE300 on first-class tickets. The raise is applicable only on international flights departing from Egypt. There is no tax increase on flights coming to Egypt or domestic flights. The fixed sum tax on plane tickets was first imposed in 1978 under Law 46.

Another presidential decree issued by the president, also on 8 October, amending Article 16 of Law 48/1982, concerns the protection of the River Nile from pollution. According to the amendment, anyone who pollutes the Nile directly or indirectly will be subject to one year in jail and a fine not less than LE50,000.

The number of laws issued since interim president Adli Mansour came to power in June 2013 until now is more than 500. Hassan Nafaa, a professor of political science at Cairo University, believes that the president is issuing these laws because he is confident that the upcoming parliament will be pro-Al-Sisi.

“He does not have any constraints in issuing laws and presidential decrees. He is confident that the parliament will not annul or amend any of them,” Nafaa said.

As soon as parliament convenes, members have only two weeks to revise and re-evaluate all the newly issued laws. Nafaa, however, said members of parliament will be unable to finish such a review within the allowed time.

“The only solution to solve defects in the new laws is to initially approve them, then have parliament give itself the right to amend them any time later,” Nafaa said.

According to Nafaa, there are many laws issued that contradict the Egyptian constitution. More than 200 of them are in some form or another against freedom. The Supreme Constitutional Court is the only entity that can invalidate the laws.

“The country is suffering political confusion. The upcoming parliament is not expected to be up to the people’s expectations because the parliament is void of political hotshots,” added Nafaa.

Gamal Eid, a legal activist and executive director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, said Al-Sisi is issuing laws because he wants to increase the number of laws to be examined by the parliament when it convenes.

“He could be concerned that when fully examining these laws, some might be rejected by parliament. He wants to indirectly impede the MPs from fulfilling their mission. No one can carefully examine 500 laws in just 15 days,” argued Eid.

Eid called for the current political authority to show more respect for the constitution and the legislative authority.

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