The performance of the newly elected House of Representatives during the first week presented a negative image of the parliament to the public, according to a report by local NGO Maat for Peace and Development released on Saturday.
Parliamentary sessions are currently halted until the code of conduct is updated and passed by MPs. The next session is expected to be on 7 February.
The parliament held its first session on 10 January. It was broadcast live and caused controversy due to the chaotic situation that ensued. As a result, Parliamentary Speaker Ali Abdel Aal banned live television broadcasts of the sessions, which created new debates regarding the public’s right to have access to legislative deliberations.
The parliament continued to hold session until the end of last week to revise 340 presidential decrees issued within its absence. According to Maat’s evaluation, the attitude of MPs during the induction oath negatively affected public perception of the new legislative body. This perception was furthered by internal disputes seen in the parliament during the second week.
The report criticised the lack of organisation inside the parliament and disputes related to demanding the floor. “For instance, MP Ahmed Tantawy was kicked out of the session by Abdel Aal for declaring his rejection of a decree, which the latter was in favour of,” Maat said.
Maat also reported disputes between Abdel Aal and his deputy Suleiman Wahdan over the latter’s request to give the floor to MP Serry Seyam. Moreover it condemned several MPs who were caught on camera voting on decrees for their colleagues.
Its report highlighted positive aspects of the parliament and that the rejection of several decrees, such as the Civil Service Law and the Mineral Resources Law, showed that MPs carefully read through and examined the laws, despite being constrained by a 15-day constitutionally mandated review period and despite some public expectations that all decrees were going to be “dodged”.
Meanwhile Head of the Press Syndicate Yehia Qallash met with Abdel Aal Saturday to discuss a unified media law, which the syndicate and media community wish to see passed by the parliament.
The Egyptian Press Syndicate previously encouraged the step and said that “a unified law for all media is urgently required and the organisation of the media will begin with the implementation of constitutional articles”.
The law was initially drafted by an advisory committee of nearly 50 members formed by the government under former prime minister Ibrahim Mehleb. The law unifies regulations for print and broadcast media.