Draft bill on Egypt's Senate sets conditions for president's nomination of members

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Sun, 14 Jun 2020 - 01:22 GMT

FILE - Members of Parliament start voting on the newly-proposed amendments to the 2014 Constitution on Thursday- Egypt Today/Hazem abdel-Samad

FILE - Members of Parliament start voting on the newly-proposed amendments to the 2014 Constitution on Thursday- Egypt Today/Hazem abdel-Samad

CAIRO – 14 June 2020: The Support Egypt Coalition at the House of Representatives drafted a law setting rules for the establishment and operation of the senate and that includes conditions that must be met by the president when appointing one third of members of the upper chamber.

Article 28 of the draft bill reviewed by the House of Representatives' Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee provides those conditions that are:

- The president shall nominate candidates after the conclusion of the elections and before the Senate convenes.
- The criteria that apply to candidates running for election must apply to candidates nominated by the president.
- The president cannot nominate more than one candidate from the same political party.
- The president cannot nominate a candidate from the political party he had held its membership before taking office.
- The president cannot nominate a candidate who lost the elections of the same Senate.
- The president has to take into consideration that women must make up 10 percent of the Senate's members.
Chair of the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee Bahaa Abu Shoqa told press that the bill does not include any violations of the constitution or laws. The parliamentarian added that the committee has communicated with the National Elections Authority for consultation in accordance with Article 208 of the constitution and Article 26 of the authority's law.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Ali Abdel Aal stated in the plenary session Sunday that women rights organization want the percentage of females in the Senate to be the same as that of House of Representatives, which is 25 percent. The Speaker said that all reservations on the bill will be discussed before voting, which is expected to take place later this week.

Parliamentary sources stated Saturday Egypt is set to hold the first elections for the newly established Senate in August which is being created according to the 2019 constitutional amendments.

Elections for the lower chamber, the House of Representatives, will be held in November as previously scheduled, the sources added.

After approving the constitutional amendments in the April 2019 referendum, the upper chamber of Parliament was brought back to life.Another upper house known as the Shura Council, the role of which was largely advisory, was abolished in 2014.

The Parliament discusseson June 14, a draft bill on the formation and election of the Senate and draft amendments to the law of the House of Representatives.

The Senate shall be concerned with studying and proposing what it sees as a tool to consolidate democracy, support national unity, social peace, the basic values of society, the supreme values, rights, freedoms, and public duties, and deepen and expand the democratic system, according to the Constitution.

"The latest amendments of the draft law on the Senate and the House have fulfilled all constitutional conditions and legal standards," said Parliament Member Abdel Hadyal-Qassabi, the head of the coalition.

According to the amendments, the Senate will consist of 300 members, one-third will be elected through electoral lists, the second third will be elected individually, and the last third will be directly chosen by the country’s president.

The reinstatement of the Senate was one of the newly-suggested amendments to the Constitution in 2019 and was approved by 44 percent of eligible Egyptian voters in a public referendum in April. A new chapter that regulates the Egyptian Senate was added to the amended Constitution.

Mission of Senate

As per the initial draft of the Senate Law, the Senate shall be asked about its opinion in any amendments to the constitution, the general plan for the social and economic development, and in all agreements regarding sovereignty rights.

Moreover, the council members shall be asked about their opinion on any topic referred by the president and relate to the state’s general policy as well asArab and foreign policies.

Members of the Senate shall not be less than 180 senators. One-third of the council members will be appointed by the president, while the other two-thirds will be elected by direct vote. Also, the election of the Senate shall be conducted every 5 years.

As for the council internal regulation, the council shall elect a president and two deputies in the first session. The sessions shall be held in public. However, the president, prime minister, the Senate speaker, or 20 members have the right to call for holding secret sessions. Two-thirds of the council members have the final saying whether the proposed topic shall be discussed in public or secretly.

Candidacy for Senate Membership

The draft law stipulates that a senator shouldnot be a member of the House of Representatives simultaneously. The candidate shouldbe an Egyptian citizen, who has all civilian and political rights. He also shouldobtain an academic degree or its equivalence. He shouldnot be under the age of 35 at the time of candidacy.

As for the senator’s membership, the Court of Cassation is the only body specialized to consider the membership. Appeals against the final results of the Senate election candidates shouldbe referred to the Court of Cassation within 60 days fromthe issuance of final results.

The member should not buy or rent in person or by any means state’s properties. He also shouldsubmit his financial report annually to the Central Auditing Organization (CAO). In case he receivesa gift due to his membership, the gifted object will be state-owned.

Senator’s membership may be withdrawn in case he loses the confidence or he stopsdoing theduties for which he was elected or appointed. The membership withdrawal shall be approved by two-thirds of the council members.

As for the resignation, the senator shouldsubmit his/her written resignation to the council. However, he/she also has no right to resign after the council started taking the procedures of withdrawing his membership.

Senate members will enjoy complete immunity. In case any member is caught in flagrante delicto, legal action willbe taken against him/her with the presence of a prior warrant from the council.

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