By Marwa Al-A’asar
CAIRO: Lawmakers will not discuss Egypt’s electoral system during the current parliamentary term, said Moufid Shehab, the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) Assistant Secretary General for Parliamentary Affairs on Monday.
Shehab, who is also the Minister of State for Legal Affairs and Parliamentary Councils, added that a number of polls conducted by the NDP had indicated that ordinary citizens prefer the individual representation system that is currently used.
“It is not about adopting a new electoral system for its own sake. [Rather], it is about following an electoral system that expresses the wishes of the public,” Shehab told reporters at a press conference held on the final day of the 7th Annual NDP Conference.
The ruling NDP won 420 of the parliament’s 508 seats in the latest parliamentary elections held on Nov. 28 and Dec. 5, amid accusations of various election violations and fraud.
Shehab said that naming a presidential candidate is not the purpose for holding the annual conference, adding that the NDP general conference that will be held before the polls next year will be responsible for naming its candidate for presidency.
One month prior to the parliamentary polls, NDP senior member Ali Eddin Helal announced that President Hosni Mubarak would be the party’s official candidate if he was willing to run.
Shehab called on other political parties and ordinary citizens to confront the activities of illegal political groups.
“There is almost a [unanimous] political consensus on this issue,” Shehab said.
The biggest opposition bloc in the last parliament was the officially banned Muslim Brotherhood, which represented 20 percent of the parliament at the time. Despite winning 88 seats in the 2005 parliamentary elections, the group only secured one seat after announcing its decision to withdraw from the elections.
Answering a question about a unified law for the construction of prayer houses, Shehab stated that President Mubarak has never turned down a request for the construction of a church, as long as the request followed the required guidelines.
On Sunday, a number of NDP senior members fiercely criticized the opposition forces.
In his opening speech to mark the second day of the 7th Annual NDP Conference, the NDP Secretary General Safwat El-Sherif said that the results of the People’s Assembly (PA) elections may have “shocked the [party’s] opponents everywhere.”
El-Sherif said that the NDP’s competitors “overestimated their own political weight on the streets of this country.”
According to El-Sherif, this was one of the reasons behind the withdrawal of “the illegal group [the Muslim Brotherhood] from the elections.”
Ahmed Ezz, the head of the NDP Organization Committee, directly attacked the Muslim Brotherhood.
“For the [Muslim Brotherhood], Egypt is just an emirate in a global project,” Ezz said. “The group members’ loyalty is for the guidance office [rather than] Egypt,” Ezz said.
“They claim to be [advocates] of morality,” Ezz added. “Yet we got to know through the press that their best method in elections is to spread rumors against their competitors.”
Meanwhile, the People’s Assembly (PA) Speaker Fathi Sorour said on the sidelines of the conference on Monday that that the calls for annulling the results of the last parliamentary elections were “illegal” and “meaningless.”
“Cases filed before the State Council can only be against administrative decision issues,” Sorour stated. “The Cassation Court is the only judicial entity that can look into election-related disputes.”
Opposition groups and human rights organizations have repeatedly called for dissolving what they describe as a “null and void” PA that does not represent the will of the Egyptian people.
Hundreds of lawsuits have also been filed to challenge the legitimacy of the parliament as a whole.