Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1314, (6 - 12 October 2016)
Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Issue 1314, (6 - 12 October 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Sharm El-Sheikh hosts parliamentary jamboree

A two-day celebration will be held in Sharm El-Sheikh to mark parliament’s 150-year history, reports Gamal Essam El-Din

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh will host a two-day celebration aimed to mark the 150 anniversary of parliamentary life in Egypt.

The House of Representatives’ Secretary-General Ahmed Saadeddin told Al-Ahram Weekly details of the celebration are almost complete. “It was initially going to be held on 22 October, the day Egypt’s first Western-style parliament opened 150 years ago,” said Saadeddin. “It was decided to bring the celebration forward to 9 October after the African Parliamentary Union decided to hold its conference in Sharm El-Sheikh between 10 and 21 October, and the Arab Parliamentary Union and African Parliamentary Union opted to hold joint session on 10 October.”

Saadeddin said Sharm El-Sheikh had been chosen as the venue for the celebration “because we wanted to show that it is a safe tourist  destination and also because parliament’s main chamber in Cairo is too small to accommodate all the invitees”.

Saadeddin revealed that in addition to Egypt’s 596 MPs, 400 Egyptian, Arab and foreign dignitaries are expected to attend.

In a press conference on Monday Osama Heikal, head of parliament’s Media and Culture Committee, said the celebration will be attended by parliamentary speakers from 16 countries, 14 foreign and Egyptian, Arab and foreign public figures. “Speakers will represent the parliaments of Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Tunisia, Djibouti, Kuwait, Sudan, Cote D’Ivoire, Kenya, Namibia, Togo, Gambia, Mauritania, Cyprus and Greece,” said Heikal. The speakers of the Arab and African Parliamentary Unions and secretary general of the Intern-Parliamentary Union will also join the celebration.

President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi and House of Representatives’ Speaker Ali Abdel-Fattah will open the celebration at Sharm El-Sheikh’s Conference Centre on Sunday.

“President Al-Sisi, Abdel-Aal, the secretary-general of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, head of the Arab Parliamentary Union, and head of the African Parliamentary Union are scheduled to deliver speeches on Sunday morning,” said Heikal. “In the evening guests will attend a dinner and an opera.”

A volume documenting the 150-year history of Egypt’s parliament will be published in Arabic, English and French to coincide with the celebration. According to Heikal “the book will showcase both the historic role of parliament in Egyptian political and public life as well as underlining the country’s stability and progress towards a democratic government”.

Saadeddin told Al-Ahram Weekly Sunday will also feature a 20-minute documentary on parliamentary life in Egypt while on Monday a joint Arab-African parliamentary meeting will be held. “President Al-Sisi and speakers of the Arab and African Parliamentary Unions will also deliver speeches,” said Saadeddin.

Between 11 and 21 October the African and Arab Parliamentary Unions will hold their annual rounds of meetings. Five Egyptian MPs — Hatem Patshat, Sayed Filafel, Mustafa Al-Guindi, May Mahmoud, and Salah Afifi — will attend the meetings of the African Parliamentary Union. MPs Saad Al-Gammal, Ahmed Raslan, Alaa Abed and Shadia Al-Gaml will join the conference of the Arab Parliamentary Union.

A public exhibition will be held on the sidelines of the parliamentary celebration. “It will be organised by leading tourist and commercial companies and aims to promote Egypt as a tourist and business destination among guests,” said Saadeddin.

Abdel-Aal told reporters on Monday that the new parliament, which opened 10 January, is the most empowered in Egypt’s history.

“Women have made extraordinary gains and now hold 89 seats in the House of Representatives, the highest percentage of female representation in parliament’s 150-year history. The same is also true of Christians whose number now stands at 39 and the number of political parties represented in parliament rose to 19, “said Abdel-Aal.

On Monday Minister of Telecommunication and Information Technology Yasser Al-Qadi announced the issuing of a postal stamp commemorating 50 years of parliamentary life.

The history of Egypt’s Western-style parliament, the first in the Arab world and Africa, dates back to 22 October 1866 when the 75 member Maglis Shura Al-Nuwab (Council of Consultative Deputies) was formed by the Khedive Ismail (1863-1879). The council held its first meeting on 25 November 1866.

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