Tuesday,24 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1128, 27 December 2012 - 2 January 2013
Tuesday,24 October, 2017
Issue 1128, 27 December 2012 - 2 January 2013

Ahram Weekly

Give and take resignation

The anger of prosecutors in the wake of the appointment of a new prosecutor-general is not subsiding, reports Reem Leila

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Al-Ahram Weekly

News of Prosecutor-General Talaat Abdallah withdrawing his resignation was shocking to a vast majority of prosecutors, legal experts and politicians, as well as the public. As Abdallah’s move directly affects their work, thousands of prosecutors — opposing the way by which the prosecutor was appointed — vowed to continue the pressure until Abdallah steps down. On 23 December, hundreds of prosecutors rallied in front of his office, located at the Higher Judiciary House, demanding he leave. Hundreds others decided to stage a partial strike. The protesting prosecutors issued a statement confirming their refusal to cooperate with Abdallah.

While gathering in front of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) the prosecutors chanted “Long live Egypt’s honourable judges”.

It was last Thursday when Abdallah decided to withdraw his resignation which he submitted three days earlier to the SJC. In the subsequent official request, Abdallah asked the SJC to annul his resignation. Abdallah who was appointed by Islamist President Mohamed Morsi told the press he was pressured into resigning when thousands of prosecutors staged a sit-in in front of his office. “Accordingly my resignation is illegal,” said Abdallah.

Abdallah pointed out that he is taking back his resignation to preserve the “dignity” of the post. “I will not allow a few hundred to prevent me from performing my duty and will not permit a bunch of protesting prosecutors to affect the post of the prosecutor-general. Such an incident has never happened in judicial history,” said Abdallah.

For its part and in order to avoid embarrassment, the SJC referred Abdallah’s request to Justice Minister Ahmed Mekki.

On 17 December, around 1,500 prosecutors from all over the country protested in front of the prosecutor-general’s office demanding his immediate resignation and threatened to start a nationwide strike.

Abdallah’s resignation came amid heated debates with prosecution members who protested in front of his office, against what they described as an “invalid” decision taken by President Morsi who appointed him after issuing a highly controversial presidential constitutional declaration on 22 November.

Mohamed Ahmed, a protesting prosecutor told Al-Ahram Weekly that prosecutors cannot cooperate with a prosecutor-general whose loyalty is devoted to the presidency. “He is unfair. Abdallah was said to pressure Attorney-General Mustafa Khater not to release 130 anti-Morsi protesters who were taken into custody during the bloody clashes at Al-Ittihadiya. This is corruption,” said Ahmed.

Khater was investigating the 5 December clashes between the Muslim Brotherhood and anti-Morsi protesters which erupted in front of Al-Ittihadiya presidential palace. The demonstrators were protesting against Morsi’s constitutional declaration as well as the draft constitution. “Morsi said in a speech delivered a few hours after arresting protesters that detainees had confessed they were paid to attack his supporters. This charge was refuted by Khater as there was no evidence proving this. What does Morsi mean by saying such things? Does he want to pressure or direct Khater? We don’t accept this,” said Ahmed.

In a related context, Abdallah decided on Monday to terminate the job of Adel-Al-Said, the chairman of the prosecutor-general’s technical bureau. Al-Said will resume work at the judiciary. Since the appointment of Abdallah, a large number of prosecutors appealed to the SJC asking for terminating their post at the general prosecution. This was the main challenge facing Abdallah.

Protesting prosecutor Ali Afifi viewed Morsi’s dismissal of former prosecutor-general Abdel-Maguid Mahmoud and the appointment of Abdallah as flagrant interference in the work of the judiciary. “We can’t allow this to happen. We will not end our protest until he resigns again. Escalation is an option, yet we did not decide how we will escalate,” said Afifi.

Judge Mahmoud Al-Khodeiri refused to comment on Abdallah’s resignation but stated “he is free to resign and withdraw his resignation within 60 days of his resignation date. No one can blame him for this,” said Al-Khodeiri.

Founder of Al-Dostour Party Mohamed Al-Baradei said Abdallah’s withdrawal of his resignation was normal and expected. “What is happening is a normal result in the state of chaos which the country is going through,” said Al-Baradei.

Al-Baradei expressed on Monday on his twitter account his “profound appreciation and gratitude to prosecutors who are protecting and defending legitimacy as well as the independence of the judiciary”.

Head of the Arabic Centre for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession, Nasser Amin, said Abdallah’s resignation was not “innocent”. According to Amin, this was a cunning bargain made by Abdallah. “He wanted prosecutors to supervise the second stage of the referendum on 22 December, in return for his resignation,” Amin said. “He resigned with the intention of taking it back.”

Meanwhile, Fawzia Abdel-Sattar, professor of law at Cairo University, described what happened as “a shame in judicial history.” Abdel-Sattar expected that Abdallah would be pressured again to resign. “He will resign sooner or later. No one can perform in such a hostile atmosphere,” said Abdel-Sattar.

Abdel-Sattar believes that the only way out of this crisis is Abdallah’s resignation once more. “Many are sure that he was instructed by the presidency and the Freedom and Justice Party [of the Muslim Brotherhood] to take back his resignation.”

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