• 08:59
  • Wednesday ,09 December 2015

Will Parliament really take off?

By-Mohamed Nour Farahat- egyptindependent



Wednesday ,09 December 2015

Will Parliament really take off?

Strangely enough, some members of the new Parliament who managed to sneak into it through hybrid blocs and coalitions brag that they have formed a grand coalition supportive of the state within Parliament. 

We all support the state. Nobody supports the non-state. Nobody wants Egypt to become like it was in 3,200 BC before King Narmer united the north and the south.
But what state will that coalition support? Is it the state of freedom or of tyranny? Is it the state of institutions or of autocracy? Is it the state of justice or of injustice? Is it the state of appeasing corruption or of fighting corruption? Is is the state that protects the interests of the wealthy or one that stands with the poor? 
History tells us that people were crushed under authoritarian and fascist regimes like those of Stalin, Mussolini and Hitler, when homeland security was only in the eyes of the ruler and all state policies were devised to match his vision. By the way, a matching of the same kind between the fundamentals of religion and its variables is what the advocates of theocracy call for.
Those who brag about forming a coalition that supports the state within Parliament actually abandon the real function of a legislative council. For parliaments are not there to protect the executive power, but to control it with legislation. Yet those new parliamentarians are distancing themselves from the burden of legislative control, leaving it for the government to take care of.
There are many constitutional tasks waiting for Egypt's Parliament. Important laws need to be issued to regulate the media, combat discrimination and achieve transitional justice (remember this last term?).
But the biggest challenge facing this one-voiced national line-up Parliament is the hundreds of laws that were issued by the interim and elected presidents, most of which I believe were unconstitutional.
I may be wrong. But what worries me more is those who tell the ruler what he wants to hear and not what he ought to hear.
I remember when the Muslim Brotherhood was ruling the country and Mohamed al-Beltagy, the group member who is not a man of law, made fun of me live on the air because I approved a lawsuit claiming the invalidity of the first Constituent Assembly. The same attack came from other group members, such as Sobhy Saleh, Ahmed Abu Baraka, Essam al-Eryan and other university professors who are servants of religious fascism. Yet one week later, the assembly was annulled by court order.
Today, we hear men of law saying that it is unnecessary to review those laws because they were issued during a transitional period, although the transitional provisions of the Constitution do not exempt them from submission to Parliament.
The other thing those new parliamentarians say is that they will pass those laws in just one meeting in order to preserve the stability of the country. 
In fact, by doing this, they will threaten the very stability of the country because passing those laws without discussion is an explicit violation of the Constitution. Should a court ruling be issued later on the unconstitutionality of those laws, the whole legislative system would collapse.
Let us read together article 156 of the Constitution. It says that when laws are issued out of necessity at a time when the House of Representatives is not in session, the president is to call for an emergency meeting of the House of Representatives in order to review them. And if there was no House of Representatives, the president may decree laws that are to be submitted for discussion within 15 days of the formation of a new council. And if they are not submitted or they are not approved by the council, they are annulled without issuing a decision to that effect.
This article talks about two cases. The first is in the case that the council is not in session, and the second is in the case it does not exist, which is our case now. It also talks about the president decreeing laws for a necessity that cannot be delayed. 
Such necessary laws, in my opinion, would be laws pertaining to certain arrangements for the transitional period, such as laws on election districting and on anti-terrorism measures. But the interim and elected presidents decreed other laws that should have been exclusive for Parliament to issue, such as laws on social security, taxes, pensions, universities and criminal sanctions. These are inevitably going to be annulled for their unconstitutionality, even if they are passed by Parliament.
Other laws that were issued unconstitutionally were the protest law, the law banning the challenging of contracts signed by the state except by parties to those contracts, the law on extending periods of detention in certain cases, the law placing assaults on government and military institutions under the jurisdiction of the military courts and the law on extraditing accused or convicted foreigners to their countries outside the president's pardon power.
Legislators know that all these laws are unconstitutional and that Parliament should not line up behind them.
But what if they are all passed in just one meeting? Article 156 of the Constitution says they must be submitted, discussed and approved within 15 days, otherwise they would be void. This means that if they are submitted and approved but not discussed, they would be unconstitutional.
Some of those laws are complementary to the Constitution, such as the laws on the presidential and parliamentary elections and the law on exercising political rights. These require the approval of a two-thirds majority, otherwise they lose effect. 
But how could all this be done in such a short period of time? Actually, the Constitution is not concerned with this question. The interim and elected presidents who created this situation should find a way. Perhaps this problem could be overcome by assigning the task to committees that would work day and night.
It is a serious predicament that has no place for irresponsible statements about a coalition that supports the state. The real state that we should support is the state of the rule of law and of the Constitution that the people willed and everybody else swore to respect.