Shura Council members agreed in principle to the new draft elections and political participation bills submitted by the government, referring them to the Legislative and Constitutional Committee for review on Tuesday.
The committee was tasked with reviewing the bills article by article and presenting a report in plenary, after which voting will take place.
Shura Council Speaker Ahmed Fahmy told members they should submit all comments they have on the bills to the committee before Sunday so that it could include it in its report.
This is the council’s second attempt at passing a set of election laws. It drafted election and political participation bills earlier and referred them to the Supreme Constitutional Court for constitutional review after passing them.
The court found the laws unconstitutional and referred them back to the upper house of parliament alongside its recommended amendments.
The Shura Council applied the amendments and voted again but referred the bills to President Mohamed Morsi who signed them into law without sending them back to the Supreme Constitutional Court to ensure its amendments were constitutional.
As a result, the Administrative Judiciary Court referred the laws to the Supreme Constitutional Court after it suspected them of unconstitutionality and suspended parliamentary elections scheduled to begin in April.
The presidency then appealed the suspension with the Supreme Administrative Court, but the government and Shura Council started working on a new set of laws parallel to the appeal.
The Shura Council floor saw heated debate on Tuesday over a draft protest bill as well. The proposed bill, which was drafted by the Ministry of Justice, has been met with opposition from NGOs who say it infringes on human rights.
The bill includes provisions such as requiring protesters to inform the Ministry of Interior ahead of time of the protest and allows the ministry to cancel it. It also empowers the police to use weapons in dispersing protesters.
Representatives from the Freedom and Justice Party, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing, argued for the passing of the law while liberal and Salafi representitives argued against it, claiming it infringes on human rights and that the state will be unable to implement it and thus appear weak.