By Hoda Badry and Amira El-Fekki
The parliamentary floor, which has seen continued controversy since the inaugural congress of the legislative body, was embroiled in further issue on Sunday afternoon when parliamentary speaker Ali Abdel Aal circumvented the parliament’s normal review procedure to approve the 9 January presidential decree that extended the state of emergency in parts of North Sinai for an additional three months.
While MPs demanded to vote on the decree, Abdel Aal said the approval of the decree has already satisfied constitutional requirements as laid out in Article 154 of the constitution.
The constitutional article delineates that the cabinet is the first governmental apparatus to be consulted regarding the president’s wish to declare a state of emergency. The declaration then must be presented to the House of Representatives within seven days of the initial declaration.
“In all cases, the declaration of the state of emergency must be approved by a majority of the members of the House of Representatives. The state of emergency shall be declared for a specified period not exceeding three months, which may only be extended for another similar period after obtaining the approval of two-thirds of the House members,” the constitution reads.
In the event that the parliamentary body is not in session, the article provides provision for the decree’s approval:”[I]n case the House of Representatives has not been elected, the matter shall be referred to the Cabinet for approval provided, however, that it is presented to the new House of Representatives at its first session.”
Abdel Aal argued that the decree was issued before parliament had been elected and thus was presented and approved by the Ministers’ Cabinet. Abdel Ael announced the decree to the members of parliament last Tuesday, claiming that this satisfied the stipulations of article 154. However at that time, there was not a parliamentary vote to approve or reject the decree.
In October 2014, the National Defence Council (NDC) declared a state of emergency in North Sinai, in a meeting headed by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, following three explosions in Sinai that left 31 dead.
The extension state of emergency became effective 13 January at 1am. This was the fifth extension of the state of emergency in the northern part of the peninsula.
Meanwhile MP Hassan Hussanein, secretary of the parliament’s National Defence committee, told Daily News Egypt Sunday that the committee was assigned 11 laws in total and that only five of them are to be discussed in Sunday’s session.
Hussanein stated that the parliament will discuss 20 laws only Sunday despite that the parliament had earlier announced discussing 32 laws out of 340.