Parliament saw a busy session on Tuesday, as over two thirds of the members of Parliament announced their support for President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in the upcoming presidential elections and appointed a parliamentary spokesperson.
A total of 464 MPs submitted forms endorsing Sisi’s candidacy in the elections, a source at the Parliament’s general secretariat told Mada Masr speaking on condition of anonymity.
Parliamentary Speaker Ali Abdel Aal announced that Parliament had received the forms at the start of Tuesday’s session in accordance with the house bylaws, which stipulate that every member has the right to endorse one presidential candidate. According to Article 142 of the Constitution, a nominee must garner the support of at least 20 MPs to be eligible for candidacy. Sisi has not yet announced his intention to run.
Abdel Aal was among those who chose to support Sisi’s candidacy, as was pro-state Alliance to Support Egypt Head Mohamed al-Sewedy and a number of members of the Free Egyptians Party bloc. Members of the Salafi Nour Party and members of the 25-30 Alliance did not sign any endorsement forms.
Sewedy told journalists in Parliament that “the majority of MPs support Sisi and view his nomination for another term as necessary for him to complete his accomplishments.”
Sewedy claimed that during his presidency Sisi has able to address many issues and pressing problems former president Mohamed Morsi was not able to deal with, such as the bankruptcy law, which he asserted previous governments were afraid to touch.
He added that the Alliance to Support Egypt will not stop at endorsing Sisi, but plans to reach out to Egyptians in an attempt to convince them of his candidacy and respond to what he referred to as rumors spread by some against the regime.
Member of the 25-30 Alliance Haitham al-Hariri, however, told Mada Masr “the alliance will wait to consider who it will endorse until after the rest of the candidates are announced, hold discussions with the candidate seeking the support of the coalition and examine their presidential program.”
Nour Party representative Mahmoud Heiba said “we work within an institutional framework, and will hold a meeting after the names of all candidates have been announced and come to a decision then.”
When asked about his personal preference for the upcoming election, Heiba stated that President Sisi is “irreproachable.”
In related news, Abdel Aal also announced the appointment of MP Salah Hasaballah as parliamentary spokesperson. Salah is currently spokesperson for the Alliance to Support Egypt.
The speaker stated that the role had been created as a reaction to obscenities leveled against Parliament.
“I have received snippets from newspapers and websites which we follow closely, which have made me aware of the severity of attacks against us and desire to cause damage to Parliament,” he said.
Abdel Aal requested that MPs refrain from giving journalists news which could be misused, and cautioned them against sharing information with each other on electronic groups, as he stated these could be used by websites and outlets that “wish Parliament ill.”
During the session Parliament also approved amendments to the Penal Code.
Under the new amendments, the abduction of newborns is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, which increases to 15-20 years if a ransom is demanded. Death sentences may also be issued against defendants convicted of the rape or kidnapping of women or children.
The penalties for foreign public officials and employees of public international organizations found to have given, received or promised bribes have also been increased. People convicted of receiving bribes can be handed life sentences and a fine of between LE1,000 and double the value of the bribe. Those who are found to have promised or given the bribes may receive prison time and a fine of between LE500 and LE1,000.
Parliament also approved an amendment which reduces the prison time necessary for conditional release. Detainees may now be released after they have served half their sentence, where the Penal Code previously required them to complete three quarters of their sentence.