FILE - MP Sameh Al-Sewedi FILE - MP Sameh Al-Sewedi

Why parliament's majority 'Support Egypt' coalition aims to merge its parties

Mon, Apr. 23, 2018
CAIRO – 22 April 2018: Members of Parliament’s majority “Support Egypt” coalition discussed with Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal on Sunday the possibility of merging all political parties of the coalition into a unified party.

In an interview with Egypt Today, MP Ali Abdel Wanis, member of the coalition, said that the idea aims to emulate parliaments around the world by forming a party that acts as a political backer of the state.

Abdel Wanis added that merging the parties of the coalition will help prevent contradictory opinions in case a certain party and the coalition hold different views.

MP Mohamed Al-Sewedi, head of the coalition, said that a legislative and constitutional study will be conducted to see if such a move can be made.

Seemingly supporting the move, Ali Abdel Aal said that the coalition meets all conditions that would make it a strong political party, adding that political life cannot be on the right track without a majority party.

However, it is likely that the pro-government parliamentary coalition will face a legal challenge if its leaders decide to merge its parties. Abdel Wanis told Egypt Today that an amendment is required in order for the move to take place.

Article 110 of the Constitution stipulates that Members of Parliament may be stripped of their legislative seat if they lose the conditions for membership on the basis of which they were elected.

The article also explains that stripping the membership of a parliamentarian needs the approval of two thirds of Parliament members; the Support Egypt coalition holds around 400 of 597 seats in Parliament.

According to law, independent parliamentarians are not permitted to become party members during their term in office, and vice versa. In addition, a party member cannot change parties mid-term, said Constitutional Law Professor Fathi Fekri to Masrawy, adding that MPs have to preserve the conditions of which they gained people’s trust.

On the other hand, MP Ayman Abul-Ela, of the Free Egyptians Party, told Al-Shrouk that a parliamentarian who is a member of a party would not be a violator if he decided to move to another party.

However, independent parliamentarians might face legal obstacles in Parliament’s current session if they attempt to join an established party, Abul-Ela said, adding that the move to form the unified party will start in the fourth session. The third session ends in a few months.

A number of political parties of the coalition, which is comprised of about 10 political parties, and independent parliamentarians, opposed merging parties so as to form a unified political party, considering it illegal or diminishing the identity of a party.

Hazem Omar, chairman of the Republican Peoples' Party, said that his party will not object the coalition if it announces a political party, but will not be part of it, adding that he will choose to retain his party’s identity.

The Support Egypt coalition was formed in late 2015 by former-General Sameh Seif El-Yazal. Parties of the coalition include the Free Egyptians, Future of a Nation, Homeland Defenders, Republican Peoples and Conference parties. The 5-year parliamentary term ends in 2021.

FILE – Sameh Seif El-Yazal

The coalition has always been known to support the state. In January, MP Taher Abu Zeid, deputy chairman of the coalition, said during the 2018 presidential election that the coalition supports President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi for a second presidential term as acting on the national conscience.

On behalf of the coalition, Abu Zeid said that supporting Sisi is a message of gratitude for his achievement in the first term.

MP Ahmed Refaat has been preparing a draft law to merge political parties in Egypt, and dissolve illegal parties – including parties formed upon religious foundations – said Sunday that he has completed his work.

Refaat said that the law will merge all Egyptian parties into just 7-10 parties. The number of Egyptian parties has reportedly exceeds 100.

The formation of a political party upon religious foundations is prohibited according to Article 74 of the 2014 Constitution.

Moreover, head of Al-Ghad Party, Moussa Moustafa Moussa, announced earlier this month that his party is seeking to create a multi-party alliance under the name “Entity of Egypt” to push a candidate toward the 2022 presidential election.

FILE - Head of El Ghad Party Moussa Mostafa Moussa

Moussa, the sole competitor against Sisi in the 2018 presidential election, said following the election that his party will contact Al-Wafd, Free Egyptians and other parties to create the alliance, adding that all religious parties will be excluded.

“The purpose of merging all political parties is to expand the circle of political work… and to create real governmental leaders to run for the 2022 presidential election,” Moussa told Egypt Today. Moussa received 656,534 votes, making up only 2.9 percent of the valid ballots in the election.

Moussa and his Ghad Party had been known for supporting Sisi before he announced running for president.

“Previously, we supported Sisi and were not rivals, playing a role in helping him develop the country. But the situation now is completely different, as we have decided to participate in the presidential election,” Moussa stated.

However, when the election results were officially announced, Moussa said that he celebrated Sisi’s victory and that he is very pleased with the results.
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