President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced the transfer of legislative powers from the executive authority to the House of Representatives in an address on Saturday morning, marking the end of Egypt’s legislative hiatus in which the president had assumed the power to issue laws unchecked in the absence of an elected parliament.
In his half-hour seech to the Parliament, the president’s first since its inauguartion in January, Sisi stated, “We will not allow anything to disrupt our path to growth and prosperity. I declare the transfer of legislative powers to the parliament and I wish you well.”
“The political, economic and security situation mean the parliament must make a concerted effort to carry out its duties in a democratic manner,” Sisi told the Parliament. “I am never negligent with my duties and my responsibility of saving the nation’s children. You must be aware of the smallest details, the difficult circumstances of our region and the plots against our country.”
The president also took the opportunity to emphasize the importance of the military in facing the “war on terror” in Sinai and on Egypt’s borders. “We have faced a mercicless surge of brutality aimed at the state, and at the forefront of the battle are the military and the police, who face great difficulties. But with the grace of God, we were able to break the conflict in Sinai and on our Western borders, and we will continue to do so.”
Sisi also praised Egypt’s foreign policy efforts, saying that the nation has been successful in fostering closer relations with many important states. The president cited Egypt’s non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council as one example of its achievements in this field.
The president’s speech was not met by support from all. A video published by the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm showed a woman waiting outside of Parliament as Sisi arrived, who began screaming “Have mercy on my son,” as the president made his way inside. The footage began to circulate widely on social media after Sisi’s speech, with many users criticizing the president and the current lack of justice in Egypt.
International and national rights groups have strongly condemned the human rights situation in Egypt. Human Rights Watch released a report last month stating that there is an ongoing human rights crisis in Egypt, citing examples of forced disappearances, torture and illegal detentions, among other human rights abuses.