Egypt | Sadat’s retaliatory expulsion from the Egyptian Parliament contravenes fundamental democratic norms

In Egypt /Road Map Program, Statements and Position Papers by CIHRS

The undersigned political parties and human rights groups unequivocally condemn the revocation of parliamentary membership from MP Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat, the representative of the Tala district in the Menoufiya governorate. In a session on Monday, February 27, 468 Members of Parliament (MPs) voted to revoke his membership, exceeding the two-thirds majority required by the Egyptian Constitution. Two of the primary accusations leading to Sadat’s parliamentary expulsion were his alleged leaking of a draft law, as well as his public critiquing of the Egyptian Parliament.

We, the undersigned organizations, affirm that Sadat’s parliamentary expulsion is irreconcilable with fundamental democratic practices, practices that are routinely scorned by Egypt’s military dictatorship. The public disclosure of draft laws should not be dealt as the leak of  classified  military information – a misconduct worthy of official disciplinary measures. Criticizing the parliament in public forums is fundamental to the MPs’ right to express their opinions; and moreover, is fundamental to their role as representatives. Sadat’s expulsion is an outcome of the parliament’s overall opposition to transparent governance: exemplified by its refusal to publish a comprehensive breakdown of its budget as well as to publicly broadcast parliamentary proceedings.

Monday’s vote was preceded by a decision on February 26th of the House’s Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee, chaired by Judge Bahaa Abu Shaqqa, to approve the Ethics Committee’s recommendation to revoke Sadat’s membership after he was accused by seven MPs of falsifying their signatures on two bills: the criminal procedure bill and the NGO bill. In addition to this allegation, Sadat was originally referred to the Ethics Committee for allegedly leaking a copy of the NGO draft law to several embassies, and sending information in the form of a complaint to the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The committee vote was carried by a majority of 38 members, with three MPs voting no (Alaa Abd al-Moneim, Mohammed Salah Abd al-Badia, and Gen. Afifi) and three others abstaining (Diaa Dawoud, Ahmed al-Sharqawi, and Gamal al-Sherif). In addition, 40 MPs voted to revoke Sadat’s membership in the House in connection with a second incident, in which he allegedly tarnished the parliament’s image with foreign organizations.

Prior to the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee’s decision to expel Sadat from the Parliament, Sadat submitted a 140-page memorandum to the committee on February 21th, denying the allegations as false and tendentious. In an official statement Mr Laurens Westhoff, Dutch Ambassador to Egypt, denied meeting with Sadat and receiving a copy of the draft law from him, which contradicts statements from Minister Ghada Wali. In addition, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (Parliamentarian Rights Committee), in an official letter, denied receiving any complaints from Sadat as alleged.

We, the undersigned political and human rights organizations, declare our full solidarity with MP Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat, who as of yet has not been incriminated by the public prosecutor pursuant to an investigation. Sadat’s parliamentary expulsion is indicative of retaliation against him for engaging civil society in regards to the NGO draft law.  Sadat’s engagement with civil society, and with the public in general, does not represent misconduct but is fundamental to increasing transparency and accountability under Egypt’s present regime that routinely flouts any semblance of democratic practices.

Signatories

  1. Constitution Party
  2. Bread and Liberty Party
  3. Egyptian Social Democratic Party
  4. Egyptian Popular Current
  5. Nazra for Feminist Studies
  6. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
  7. Arab Network for Human Rights Information
  8. The Egyptian Observatory for Training and Consultation
  9. El Nadeem Center
  10. Misryon Against Religious Discrimination
  11. The Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement
  12. Arab Organization for Penal Reform
  13. Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms
  14. Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression

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