Monday,23 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1128, 27 December 2012 - 2 January 2013
Monday,23 October, 2017
Issue 1128, 27 December 2012 - 2 January 2013

Ahram Weekly

Make way

Most of the Shura Council’s 90 new appointees hail from the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist allies, Gamal Essam El-Din reports

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Although its election law was invalidated by the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) last summer, the upper house of parliament, the Shura Council, yesterday held a procedural meeting in preparation for its new session. The council, protected by Islamist President Mohamed Morsi’s sweeping presidential decree on 22 November from dissolution, will be granted the power of legislating until a new House of Representatives (formerly the parliament) is elected.
On 22 December and even before the official results of the yes-or-no vote on Egypt’s new constitution were announced, President Morsi decreed that 90 new figures be appointed to the council.
According to Article 230 of the new constitution, the Shura Council, in its current form as regulated by the Constitutional Declaration issued on 30 March 2011, shall take charge of the power of legislation once the constitution goes into effect and until a new House of Representatives is elected. The same article states that a new Shura Council shall be elected in about one year after the House of Representatives is elected. Article 128 of the constitution states that when a new Shura Council is elected, it shall include just 150 elected members; a tenth of this figure shall be appointed by the president of the republic.
In its current form, the Shura Council includes 270 members, 90 of whom were appointed by President Morsi on 24 December, ahead of the official results of the constitutional referendum.
As expected, the Muslim Brotherhood party, from which President Morsi hails, and its Islamist allies dominated the list of 90 appointees. The Brotherhood’s allies include the two main ultraconservative Islamist Salafist political parties — Nour and Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya — and the moderate Islamist Wasat Party. Most members of these three Islamist political parties actively participated with the Brotherhood in drafting the constitution.
The list of appointees also included several independents who were members of the Constituent Assembly that was tasked with drafting the constitution. This was considered by some political analysts as a political bribe for those who refused to withdraw from the assembly and maintain cooperation with the Brotherhood in tailoring an Islamist constitution for Egypt.
Gamal Zahran, an ex-independent MP, told Al-Ahram Weekly that “like it was with [former president] Hosni Mubarak, the Shura Council has become once again a hotbed of Muslim Brotherhood and its sycophants. The list of appointees shows clearly that the Brotherhood, like Mubarak, puts loyalty first when selecting figures for appointment in political institutions like the Shura Council,” Zahran said.
All in all, the number of Islamist appointees stood at 42, with 17 belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood. The list of appointees also included 19 Islamist-oriented independents, five of whom belong to the Sunni Islam institution of Al-Azhar.
Topping the list of appointees are six high-profile officials from the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). These include Essam Al-Erian, chairman of the outgoing parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee; Sobhi Saleh, deputy chairman of the outgoing parliament’s Legislative Affairs Committee; and Ashraf Badreddin, deputy chairman of the outgoing parliament’s Budget Committee. Added to these are Gamal Heshmat from Beheira governorate, Abbas Abdel-Aziz from Suez, Khaled Abdel-Kader Ouda, a senior Brotherhood ideologue, and Khairi Abdel-Dayem, chairman of the Doctors Syndicate.
The list also includes some Salafi firebrands such as Amir Bassam, Mohamed Youssri, Mohamed Al-Saghir, Mohamed Omran, Mohamed Badawi and Safwat Abdel-Ghani, who was convicted of killing the former speaker of parliament Rifaat Al-Mahgoub in 1990. The list also includes high-profile Salafi extremists  including Salah Abdel-Maaboud, Adel Afifi, chairman of the Salafist Asala, or Authenticity Party, Ahmed Al-Sayed Al-Tamawi and Mohamed Ibrahim Abu Souad, two Salafist Nour Party members, and Fawzi Sakr, chairman of the Sunni Fatwas (religious edicts) Salafist council.
In a surprise, the list included Abdel-Hadi Al-Kasabi, a former senior official of Hosni Mubarak’s defunct ruling National Democratic Party. Al-Kasabi was a member of the National Democratic Party’s (NDP) policies committee which was led by Mubarak’s younger son Gamal. Al-Kasabi was appointed by Morsi although Article 232 of the constitution imposes a 10-year ban on senior NDP officials, stripping them of the right to exercise political activities. Press reports said Al-Kasabi, a leading Sufi official, was appointed in return for rallying Sufi groups behind voting “yes” for the constitution.
The list also included Fadia Salem, a former NDP official in Sinai and a current member of the liberal-oriented Reform and Development Party led by Anwar Al-Sadat, the nephew of late president Anwar Al-Sadat.
The list also includes members of some low-profile secular political parties which refused to withdraw from the Constituent Assembly and opted to toe the Brotherhood’s line in drafting the constitution. On top of these are Ghad Al-Thawra (the Revolution’s Tomorrow) Party led by political activist Ayman Nour. The list includes Mohamed Mohieddin and Abdel-Moneim Al-Tunsi, who were members of the Constituent Assembly.
Prominent on the list of appointees are constitutional law professors who cooperated with the Muslim Brotherhood in drafting the constitution. These include Gamal Gibriel, a law professor and chairman of the constitution-drafting assembly’s system of governance committee, Hamid Hassan, a member of the mini-committee which took charge of putting the final draft of the constitution, and Ramadan Batikh and Maged Al-Helw, two constitutional law professors.
Al-Azhar clerics also got their quota of seats in the Shura Council. Hassan Al-Shafie, an assistant to Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, and Nasr Farid Wassel, the former grand mufti of Egypt who were active members of the constitution-drafting assembly, were rewarded with appointment.
Wasat Party, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, received four seats. These include Wasat’s secretary-general Mohamed Abdel-Latif, spokesman Tarek Al-Malt, professor Amani Kandil and activist Tarek Al-Mahdi. Wasat actively cooperated with the Brotherhood in drafting the constitution. In return, the party’s leading official Mohamed Mahsoub was appointed minister of state for parliamentary affairs in July.
The fact that most of the 90 members belong to the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist and secular allies makes it almost certain that the Shura Council will turn into a hotbed of political Islamist activists. The election of the council last February saw the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) winning 107 seats (58.8 per cent); and the Salafist Nour Party gaining 46 seats (25.5 per cent) of the total 180 elected seats. This puts Islamists at the top with around 84 per cent of the total elected seats of the Shura Council. The list of appointees pushed Brotherhood and Salafist seats to a total of almost 180 (or two-thirds of the seats), out of a total 270. If these are added to around 40 appointed and elected independents with Islamist leanings, the majority of political Islamist members will go up to almost 220 members, around 75 per cent of elected and appointed seats.
A number of secular political parties and independents were able to win around 50 seats during February’s council elections. The liberal-oriented Wafd Party got 14 seats; the liberal Democratic Socialist Party six; the Free Egyptians Party two; and the Freedom Party (formerly members of Mubarak’s NDP), had six seats. The list also includes eight political parties which each got one seat; and around 14 independents.
In fact, 12 of the independents are Christians, all selected by appointment. On top of these, Catholic businessman Rami Lakah who was appointed although in 2003 the administrative court disqualified him from joining parliament because he holds dual nationality. Lakah, who owes banks huge debts, fled to France before returning.
The list of other Christians include political science professor Mona Makram Ebeid, political analyst Sameh Fawzi, lawyers Mamdouh Ramzi and Suzy Nashed, and political activist Nelly Naguib.
Yesterday’s meeting of the Shura Council saw the newly-appointed members taking the constitutional oath and Prime Minister Hisham Kandil delivering a word on economic hardships facing the country.

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