Months after his controversial decision to give himself power to remove immunized heads of supervisory bodies, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued a decree Sunday appointing two deputies to Hesham Geneina, head of the Central Auditing Authority (CAA): former Senior General Attorney of State Security Prosecution Hesham Badawi and top official at the CAA, Mona Tawhid.
The decree, published in Sunday’s Official Gazette, was dated December 7 and is the second decision pertaining to the CAA since last July’s decree, which the media and legal experts speculated was tailored to get rid of Geneina.
July’s decree gave the president the right to remove heads and members of independent and supervisory bodies in cases where they “harm national security” or fail to carry out the missions of their position. This arguably violates Article 215 of the Constitution, which states that supervisory and independent bodies are to be consulted regarding regulations and laws that relate to its work.
Legal expert Essam al-Islamboly believes Geneina should have stepped down from his post as head of the Cairo Appeals Court before he was appointed head of the CAA, since he was moved from the legislative authority to the executive authority by a presidential decree.
He clarified that since Badawi was appointed not mandated, he is obliged to step down from his judicial post first.
“If Badawi hasn’t already submitted his resignation, then the decision to appoint him would be invalid and needs to be issued again after he steps down,” he explains.
A source at the CAA, who prefers to remain anonymous, says that the president has the right to remove deputies just as he hired them, otherwise the deputy can stay in his position up to six years, after which the president has the right to renew his appointment up to a maximum of four years.
He added that the deputy position is more political than it is executive.
According to the source, only Badawi has the right to replace the head of the CAA if he is unavailable since he is the “first deputy,” as per Article 22 of the CAA law — even though they were both appointed at the same time, given that Badawi’s name was written before Tawhid’s.
However, Islamboly tells Mada Masr that generally if the decision includes two names, then the older one has priority.
Tawhid was a member of former CAA head Gawdat al-Malt’s office and was promoted to deputy minister a few months ago. The position of the deputy CAA head has been vacant since April 2013, when the only deputy retired after she turned 61 years old.
According to the presidential decree, “The deputies will receive the salary and pension set for a deputy minister.” The CAA bylaws stipulate that the deputy is to be appointed by a presidential decree, which is to include his or her financial rights.
Another source at the CAA, who also prefers to remain anonymous, says that it is common that the deputies appointed are not members of the authority, citing Mohamed Abdel Meguid, an academic who was appointed deputy to Malt.
Following July’s decree, Geneina, who was vilified by the media and accused of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, told Mada Masr in an interview that the decree was orchestrated by newly appointed Justice Minister Ahmed al-Zend after a corruption case filed by Geneina implicated the minister.