Constitutional expert Abdel-Al likely to be speaker of Egypt’s parliament

A majority parliamentary bloc in support of Egypt President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has announced this week that MP and constitutional law professor Ali Abdel-Al will likely be elected as the speaker of Egypt’s new parliament.

Abdel-Al’s name shot to the top of the list of candidates for speaker after former interim president and the incumbent chairman of the Supreme Constitutional Court Adli Mansour refused an offer by El-Sisi to be appointed to parliament. Mansour, who said he preferred to retain his position at the top of the country’s highest constitutional authority, would have been one of the 28 MPs appointed by the president in accordance with Article 102 of the constitution.

The list of 28 presidential appointees did include one high-profile judicial figure, Sirri Siam, the former chairman of the Court of Cassation and the Higher Council for Judges. However, Siam said he has no intention to run for the post of the speaker of parliament.

Another presidential appointee, prominent lawyer and secretary-general of the Wafd Party Bahaaeddin Abu Shuka, also said he does not intend to run for the speaker’s post.

Officials affiliated with the pro-Sisi parliamentary bloc entitled the Pro-Egyptian State Coalition were quick to announce that as long as Mansour was not appointed, they would recommend nominating Abdel-Al for the post of speaker.

Sameh Seif El-Yazal, coordinator of the pro-Sisi coalition, said in a TV interview on Thursday night that “after we took note of the list of presidential appointees, we agreed that none have a good chance to be the speaker of the coming parliament.”

“So I can say that Abdel-Al now has a good chance to be our candidate for the post of speaker.”

El-Yazal, a former intelligence officer, said “the pro-Egyptian State Coalition has so far been able to swell its ranks in the new parliament to reach as high as 370 MPs – or more than 50 percent – and this ensures that our candidate for the post of speaker can get the lion’s share of votes.”

El-Yazal also I stressed that two elected MPs – TV host Tawfik Okasha and former president of Al-Azhar University Osama Al-Abd – who have announced that they will run for the speaker’s post do not have any significant support among MPs.

“This will further boost the chances of Abdel-Al to be elected speaker,” said El-Yazal, adding that his coalition highly appreciates the fact that President El-Sisi declined to have a hand in selecting the speaker of parliament.

Abdel-Al, 68, is an Ain Shams University constitutional law emeritus professor who won a seat in an Upper Egypt governorate as part of the Pro-Egyptian State Coalition, which at the time was named the For the Love of Egypt list.

Abdel-Al first came to prominence when the now-former interim president Mansour selected him in 2013 to be one of a 10-member committee entrusted with drafting Egypt’s new constitution. When El-Sisi was elected president in June 2014, he selected him as a member of the legislative reform committee that took charge of vetting important political and economic legislation.

Abdel-Al was also at the top of a committee responsible for drafting three election laws in 2015; the exercise of political rights, the House of Representatives affairs, and the division of electoral constituencies.

Abdel-Al has said several times that he is highly supportive of President El-Sisi. When he visited parliament for the first time after winning a seat in the first round of the polls last October, he told reporters that the relationship between the parliament and the president of the republic should be based on cooperation rather than confrontation.

“I also want to stress that the For the Love of Egypt Coalition will be a back-up force for President El-Sisi in the coming parliament,” said Abdel-Al.

He did, however, stress that “this does not mean that the coalition aims to turn parliament into a rubber stamp tool or an endorsement machine for all the president’s decrees and laws.”

“We will give our support only when we see that this helps reinforce the stability of Egypt.”

Abdel-Al also argued that Article 156 of the constitution – which obligates parliament to vote on all laws passed since the removal of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi from office in July 2013 within a matter of 15 days  – should be read in a different way. According to him, the law stipulates that the vote applies to only a few number of laws, ranging between 10 and 15, that were issued for matters of necessity.

Egypt’s new parliament – which includes an unprecedented 596 members – will hold its opening procedural sitting on 10 January. The meeting, which will be headed by Wafd’s Abu Shuka, 77, in his capacity as the most senior parliamentarian, will be devoted to electing a speaker and two deputies.

Article 117 of the new constitution states that the speaker and two deputies cannot be elected for more than two consecutive legislative seasons.

Article 160 states that if the president is temporarily not able to exercise his powers, the prime minister will act in his place. However, if president’s office becomes vacant due to his resignation, death or a permanent inability to work, the speaker of parliament shall temporarily assume the powers of the president.

Source: Ahram Online