Constitutional law professor Ali Abdel-Al has been elected as Egypt’s parliament speaker late in Sunday’s procedural session, which saw the legislature convene for the first time in more than three years after MPs swore the constitutional oath.
The 68-year-old Abdel-Al, who was clearly favoured to win, 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.
“We need to be wise concerning the legislations we issue, which must favour the people’s interests,” Abdel-Aal said in his first speech after being named speaker.
“We will employ self-criticism in the parliament so we can always have an evaluation of our performance. And bear in mind, the supporters of the 25 January and 30 June revolutions have made us responsible for their ambitions, so we need to meet their expectations.”
Abdel-Al, who belongs to the Support Egypt parliamentary bloc, defeated six MPs, including independents Tawfik Okasha and Kamal Ahmed.
The election of a speaker was decided for the first time in the absence of a powerful ruling party. Under the 30-year rule of former president Hosni Mubarak, the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) had the upper hand in selecting the speaker and two deputies.
The MPs, who make up Egypt’s largest parliament to date, are divided into 448 independents, 120 party-based deputies and 28 presidential appointees.
Each MP read out the oath: “I swear by Almighty God to loyally uphold the republican system of Egypt, respect the constitution and the law, fully observe the interests of the people, and to safeguard the independence of the nation and integrity and unity of its land.”
Lawyer Bahaaa Abu-Shoqa, 77, is the oldest parliamentarian, and thus, according to parliament’s law, was the speaker of the first session until the MPs elect a speaker and two deputies.
Abu-Shoqa was appointed to the House of Representatives by President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi as one of the 28 presidential appointees.
Four members, including businessman Farag Amer, apologised for not being able to attend the first parliamentary session.
The meeting is the first of its kind after the country’s two previous parliaments were dissolved — the first in February 2011 and the second in June 2012 — and after former president Mohamed Morsi was ousted from office in July 2013.
The meeting also represents the completion of the third stage of a political roadmap adopted since the removal of Morsi.
The other stages included the passing of a new constitution in January 2014 and the election of a president, former army chief Al-Sisi, in June 2014.