Wednesday,22 November, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1293, (28 April - 4 May 2016)
Wednesday,22 November, 2017
Issue 1293, (28 April - 4 May 2016)

Ahram Weekly

‘Support Egypt’ sweeps parliamentary committees

Pro-Sisi bloc dominates elections for parliament’s 25 committees, writes Gamal Essam El-Din

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Members of the pro-Sisi “Support Egypt” parliamentary bloc have been elected to head 16 committees. Nine of the successful candidates stood unopposed.

The list of “Support Egypt” winners includes Osama Heikal, a former information minister and the current chairman of the Egyptian Media Production City, who was elected head of parliament’s Media, Culture and Antiquities Committee.

Heikal told reporters the “Support Egypt” bloc had refused to field candidates for every parliamentary committee “to allow other political factions to compete and win posts”.

Heikal won 10 votes out of a total 18. Appointed MP and novelist Youssef Al-Qaeed, Heikal’s only rival told reporters that he “withdrew” from the competition in protest at what he called “a flawed vote-counting process”. Al-Qaeed is affiliated with the leftist 25-30 parliamentary bloc which was formed to defend the ideals of the two revolutions of 25 January and 30 June. 

Alexandria businesswoman and “Support Egypt” MP Sahar Talaat Mustafa was elected head of the Tourism and Civil Aviation Committee. Mustafa’s late father, Talaat, was a leading building contractor and MP in the 1990s. Sahar’s two brothers, Tarek and Hisham, are also former MPs. Hisham, whose company built the East Cairo suburbs of Al-Rehab and Madinaty, is currently serving 15 years for his role in the murder of Lebanese actress Suzanne Tamim.

“Support Egypt” official and chairman of the Egyptian Federation of Industries Mohamed Al-Sewedi was elected head of the Industry Committee. Al-Sewedi is a major producer of electrical cables and engineering equipment.

That so many businesspeople were elected to head committees related to their businesses interests caused many to warn of potential conflicts of interest.

“Sahar Talaat Mustafa, for instance, owns a tourism company. And now she has been elected head of the tourism committee. Could there be a clearer case of conflict of interest?” asked Independent MP and journalist Osama Sharshar.

Parliamentary speaker Ali Abdel-Aal has no truck with such complaints. “Conflict of interest occurs only if a committee head exploits his post to serve his own business interests,” he said.

Alexandrian industrialist and “Support Egypt” official Mohamed Farag Amer was elected head of the Youth and Sports Committee. Amer already chairs Alexandria’s Semouha Sporting Club.

Former foreign minister Mohamed Al-Orabi, another “Support Egypt” official, was elected chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. Saad Al-Gammal, chairman of the “Support Egypt” bloc, was elected head of the Arab Affairs Committee. Al-Gammal was a leading official of former president Hosni Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) and chairman of the 2005-2010 parliament’s Arab Affairs Committee.

Appointed MP and “Support Egypt” official Hussein Eissa was elected chairman of the influential Budget and Planning Committee. Eissa, a professor of commerce and former president of Ain Shams University, won unopposed.

Chairman of the General Egyptian Federation of Trade Unions Gibali Al-Maraghi was elected head of the Labour Force Committee; Hammam Al-Adli is the chairman of the Proposals and Complaints Committee and Mohamed Ali Youssef now heads the Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises Committee. All three are members of the “Support Egypt” bloc and were elected unopposed.

May Al-Batran, a “Support Egypt” official and a board member of an information technology and training company, became the second woman to become head of a parliamentary committee when she was elected chair of the Telecommunications and Technology Transfer Committee. Osama Al-Abd and Abdel-Hadi Al-Qasabi were elected heads of the religious and social solidarity committees respectively.

The Free Egyptians Party, with 65 seats, won control of three committees. Hatem Patshat, a former intelligence officer, was elected head of the African Affairs Committee; Said Teama, a former police officer, now heads the Transport Committee and Hisham Al-Sheini will chair the Agriculture, Irrigation, Food Security and Animal Wealth Committee. The Free Egyptians Party was founded by Coptic tycoon Naguib Sawiris.

The Wafd party, with 36 MPS, succeeded in leading three committees. Bahaaeddin Abu Shukka, an appointed MP and secretary-general of the Wafd Party, was elected chairman of the influential Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee. Abu Shoka, a prominent lawyer and the parliamentary spokesperson of the Wafd party, won unopposed.

Ahmed Al-Sigini, Shoka’s deputy, was elected head of the Local Administration Committee and businessman Talaat Al-Sewedi, a leading Wafd official, was chosen to lead the Energy and Environment Committee.

The chairs of the remaining committees were divided between members of three parties. Mohamed Anwar Al-Sadat, chairman of the Reform and Development Party, was elected head of the Human Rights Committee. Sadat, a nephew of late president Anwar Al-Sadat, faced stiff competition from Alaa Abed, the parliamentary spokesperson of the Free Egyptians Party.

Kamal Amer, a former intelligence officer and parliamentary spokesperson of the pro-Sisi Guardians of the Nation Party was elected chairman of the Defence and National Security Committee. Magdi Morshed, deputy chairman of the Congress Party, won the chairmanship of the Health Affairs Committee.

Moataz Mohamed Mahmoud, chairman of the Freedom Party, is now head of the Housing, Public Utilities and Reconstruction Committee. Moataz’s father, Mohamed Mahmoud, headed the Housing Committee between 2000 and 2005.

Gamal Shiha, an MP affiliated with the 25-30 group, was elected chairman of the Education and Scientific Research Committee. Shiha is a professor at Mansoura University.

One independent MP — former Mubarak-era minister of social solidarity Ali Al-Moselhi — was elected chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee.

Observers were surprised by the failure of the pro-Sisi Future of Nation Party — the second-largest party in parliament, with 53 seats — to win any leading committee posts.

The Conservatives Party, led by MP and oil business tycoon Akmal Qortam, won the deputy chairmanship of the Labour Force and Medium and Small-scale Enterprises Committee. 

The biggest surprise of the elections came when the Coptic MP Amani Aziz Riad was voted in as deputy chairman of the Religious and Waqfs (Endowments) Committee. Osama Al-Azhari, a professor at Al-Azhar University, was elected second deputy.

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