By Heba Hesham
CAIRO: Fifty-seven groups announced Wednesday the launch of the “Revolutionary Youth Parliament” in a bid to enhance communication between the youth and the state by presenting united demands to the People’s Assembly and the government.
By setting up this parliament and sending its recommendations on national issues to the PA, participants aim “to establish a just state where sovereignty is for the people through strong well-established institutions,” said Hamada El-Kashef, general coordinator of Revolution Youth Union.
The youth parliament mainly adheres to the bylaws of the elected PA, with the exception of a few differences.
The age of the members of the Revolutionary Youth Parliament, who cannot be associated to the former regime, will range between 18 and 40.
The plenary of the youth parliament will be held on Fridays and, in case of emergency, the majority should determine meeting times, said activist Ramy Hamed.
According to its bylaw, the speaker of the parliament, the two deputies and the heads of the sub-committees will be elected this Friday in the first procedural session that will be headed by the older member aided by the youngest one, same as in the official parliament.
The sub-committees are: health, agriculture, national security, education, social justice, democracy and public freedoms, suggestions and discussions.
“We aren’t a parallel parliament. We acknowledge the elected one. But we want to set policies and regulations that wouldn’t change with those who rule the country,” said Mohamed Awad, general coordinator of the Youth for Freedom and Justice Movement.
He added that members of this parliament will stay in their positions for four years and can be changed after that.
In the revolutionary parliament that would comprise 100 members, founders say, all geographic, societal and political streams will be represented equally.
“Each of the five mainstreams — i.e. Islamists, liberals, leftists, nationalists and independents — will be represented in 20 percent of this parliament,” said Gamal Zahran, professor of political science and former independent MP.
Zahran will be one of 10 public figures comprising the General Secretariat of the revolutionary parliament and will act as consultants to the members.
Other members of the secretariat are outspoken opposition figures Karima El-Hifnawy, Ayman Nour, Alaa El-Aswany, Hossam Eissa, George Ishaq, MP Alaa Abdel Moniem, Abdel Gelel Mostafa, Ahmed Derag and Mohamed Abdel Qouddous.
Zahran and El-Hefnawy praised the youth and urged them to continue the revolution by setting a model for the current PA, which they said is combating the few revolutionary youth who won seats.
“What is happening with Ziad El-Eleimy is a perfect example. [PA Speaker Saad] El-Katatny and other MPs of the Islamic mainstream were biased against him although he used a rolling expression,” Zahran said.
Social Democratic Party MP El-Eleimy was referred to the PA’s ethics committee for using what MPs had deemed to be offensive language outside parliament to refer to the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi and Salafi preacher Sheikh Mohamed Hassan.
The Arabic Language Center reportedly said that the expression the MP used didn’t entail offense.
Zahran also criticized El-Katatny for his mediation to lift the travel ban on Samy Mahran, secretary general of the parliament, and Yosri El-Sheikh, manager of the speaker’s office, in order to accompany him in his first visit to Kuwait after taking office.
Mahran and El-Sheikh have been included on the lists of those barred from traveling in connection with investigations into illicit gains. Both have worked at the parliament for years, serving under the former regime.
“The revolution is the reference through which revolutionaries would judge the nationalism of politicians,” Zahran said.
“The current MPs are being paid in their positions and still reproduce the same old policies of the former regime. But the revolutionary youth would work voluntarily and would set the model for what a revolution is,” he added.