May 20, 2019

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  • MPs avoid PA showdown

    Salafi MPs marched from Tahrir Square towards the PA building. (Photo by Sarah El Sirgany)


    Cairo: It was hyped up as a confrontation between military-led state institutions and election legitimacy, but the anticlimactic arrival of a handful of members of the recently dissolved parliament on Tuesday revealed that no one had confrontation in mind except some enthusiastic protesters.

    On Monday night, an official at the Freedom and Justice Party, whose MPs constitute the bigger part of the Islamist majority, said that MPs will march to parliament on Tuesday to attend the session as scheduled. The same official, Yasser Ali, was vague about the prospect of confrontation.

    The announcement came in defiance of a ruling Thursday by the Supreme Constitutional Court dissolving the PA upon the reasoning that the electoral law was unconstitutional.

    Since then, army troops have been stationed around the chamber and on Monday morning barred the head of the legislative committee, Justice Mohamed El-Khodeiry and his deputy Mohamed El-Omda from entering the building in a prelude to a possible confrontation.

    PA Speaker Saad El-Katatny said in a statement Saturday that neither the court nor SCAF has the mandate to dissolve the only elected institution in the country, recommending a public referendum be conducted on the matter.

    A statement by the Muslim Brotherhood, said that “parliament was created by popular will and can only be dissolved by popular will.”

    Ali, who is also the spokesman of Mohamed Morsi’s campaign, gave the same response when asked about possible confrontation if MPs tried to enter the parliament building. For him it was a matter of galvanizing popular opinion to get the people that voted for the MPs to defend their legitimacy.

    MPs elected over a grueling three-month process last year were expected to reclaim their territory, challenging an official notification by SCAF dissolving parliament. Protesters marching to and demonstrating near the chamber dismissed the verdict as politicized, insisting that the MPs had every right to be inside the building.

    Early Tuesday evening, four MPs led by the Salafi Mamdouh Ismail, marched from Tahrir Square to the PA building, where another demonstration by MB, Salafis and the April 6 Youth Movement was stationed.

    The MPs were carried on shoulders and for less than five minutes led chants on Qasr El-Aini Street. No one attempted to go through the barricades set by the police and army forces at the entrance of the street leading to the PA building.

    A group of four FJP MPs also showed up. “It’s a warning,” a supporter blared through a loudspeaker. After the head of the FJP Morsi is declared president on Thursday, it’ll be a different story, he added before the MPs led most of the demonstrators back to the square.

    Calls for a million-man protest in Tahrir brought thousands to the flashpoint square Tuesday in objection to an addendum to the March 2011 decree broadly seen as a power grab and coup against the democratic process.

    The controversial decree came days before SCAF had promised to hand over power to an elected civilian president.

    As celebrations of Morsi’s self-proclaimed victory continued in Tahrir amid resentment of the addendum to the interim constitution and the recent court verdict, a different type of discussion was taking place at a nearby entrance to the parliament street.

    Morsi’s supporters wanted protesters to return to Tahrir to avoid any confrontation that would later be blamed on Morsi. A man with a Morsi pin on his shirt warned against a confrontation where the soldiers, “our innocent brothers and sons,” would be hurt.

    An activist with no association to the Islamists was concerned about bearing the brunt of such a confrontation. Listing previous security crackdowns almost on the same spot, Hassan Nassar advised the young Brotherhood members against attempts to storm parliament.

    “If you break into parliament and then abandon us again like you did on Mohamed Mahmoud [November] or the Cabinet [crackdown in December], I’ll beat up every MB member I find on the street,” Nassar told them.

    Away from the argument, he forecast a violent confrontation nonetheless.

    Judging by Tuesday’s demonstration, the 235 FJP MPs might not be at the frontline of a street confrontation to reclaim parliament.

    For now, they seem to be following in the footsteps of the rest of the 498 elected MPs, trying to overturn the Constitutional Court ruling through a case they initiated at the Administrative Court. –The Egypt Monocle

    No one attempted to go through the barricades set by the police and army forces at the entrance of the street leading to the PA building.

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