Sunday,24 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1348, (8 - 14 June 2017)
Sunday,24 February, 2019
Issue 1348, (8 - 14 June 2017)

Ahram Weekly

‘We will not give up’

Parliament is expected to give its final say on the Egyptian-Saudi maritime demarcation agreement during Ramadan, writes Mona El-Nahhas

‘We will not give up’
‘We will not give up’

Opponents of the Egyptian-Saudi maritime demarcation agreement have been mobilising amid growing expectations parliament will endorse the controversial deal during the holy month of Ramadan.

Under the agreement, signed in April 2016 but annulled by a final court ruling in January, Egypt will hand the two Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia. The cabinet referred the agreement to parliament for discussion in December.  

“Technical aspects of the agreement will be discussed as parliament reviews all the facts and listens to different opinions during a series of open sessions,” Bahaaeddin Abu Shokka, head of the Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee, said on Saturday.

MP Mustafa Bakri, known for his closeness to government circles, has been quoted as saying the committee will discuss the agreement next week and experts in international law and professors of history and geography will be invited to contribute to the discussions. “In this way we will guarantee that the final decision is the correct one,” said Bakri.

We will not give up, a campaign launched by those opposed to the deal, has started a petition against the agreement. In a statement issued this week the campaign’s organisers said “holding on to the holy sand of the country is the most important basis of Egyptian patriotism and something that cannot be given up”.

The Popular Committee for the Defence of Sinai has released a video via its website in which opposition politicians, joined by ordinary citizens, remind MPs that the agreement they are being asked to discuss has already been declared unconstitutional by the judiciary.

The Popular Campaign to Defend Land, which emerged in the aftermath of the deal’s signing, has called on members of the public to demand their MPs oppose the agreement.

Former presidential candidate Khaled Ali, who initiated the successful legal action against the deal, wrote on his Facebook account: “Everything is moving in the direction of breaking our will and silencing our voices ahead of the agreement being endorsed.  “Parliamentary attempts to pass this disgraceful agreement will begin on 12 June.” He called on every Egyptian to “defend the land”.

Ali is currently being tried before the Dokki Misdemeanour Court on charges of “making an obscene action that offends public decency”. Some commentators see the case as an attempt to hinder Ali’s possible nomination as a candidate in next year’s presidential poll.

Constitutional expert Nour Farahat warns that any parliamentary discussion of the agreement, even if it results in the deal being rejected, could be considered a crime given that non-implementation of a final court ruling, and interference in the affairs of the judiciary, is penalised in criminal law. “Parliament is being asked to discuss an agreement with no legal standing,” Farahat wrote on Facebook.

MPs opposed to the transfer pledged on social media that they would vote against the agreement should it be discussed by parliament.

“We have to oppose the agreement out of respect for the martyrs who sacrificed their lives to defend the land and the voters who lent us their trust, and to uphold the constitutional oath that obliges us to keep all Egyptian territories safe,” said MP Haitham Al-Hariri.

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