By Safaa Abdoun
CAIRO: The People’s Assembly will take steps towards withdrawing confidence from Egypt’s government, parliament speaker Saad El-Katatny said during Sunday’s session.
After listening to statements from the ministers of international cooperation, aviation and justice regarding the NGO trial, El-Katatny asked MPs to vote on withdrawing confidence from Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzoury’s government.
Forty-three Egyptian and foreign defendants, belonging to foreign NGOs, are facing charges of operating without a license and receiving foreign funding illegally.
Egypt suddenly lifted a travel ban on the foreigners facing trial, and six Americans were among 13 people allowed to leave Egypt, raising suspicion of foreign intervention.
El-Katany noted that withdrawing the confidence only comes after interrogating members of the Cabinet.
This comes among a number of recommendations by MPs including finding out who was responsible for lifting the travel ban.
MPs also recommended the return of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, known as the “Blind Sheikh,” former leader of Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya who is serving a life sentence in the US, as well as other Egyptian detainees in American prisons.
MPs in Sunday’s session were addressed by Minister of International Cooperation Fayza Aboul Naga, Minister of Civil Aviation Hussein Massoud and Minister of Social Affairs Nagwa Khalil, who all reiterated previous statements made in the press and at the Shoura Council.
Aboul Naga said that the Egyptian government had given several warnings and publically rejected US statements regarding giving aid to unlicensed NGOs, before referring the case to investigations.
She noted that on Feb. 20, 2011 the US administrations decided to redirect its $150 million in aid to NGOs to promote democracy in Egypt.
Massoud explained that it wasn’t his responsibility to grant permits to military or government planes to land or enter Egypt’s air space.
Following the ministers’ statements, the majority of MPs suggested a no-confidence vote against the current Cabinet.
“According to Article 57 of the constitutional decree, the Cabinet is responsible for securing the country’s affairs, so when an official says ‘I didn’t know,’ we have to withdraw confidence from this Cabinet and form another one by the PA majority,” said MP Amr Hamzawy.
On the other hand, MP Hany Abaza rejected the recommendation to withdraw confidence from the government saying that “Egypt is in dire need of stability.”
Leading member of the Freedom and Justice Party, Mohamed El-Beltagi, said that parliament must take serious steps in the resolutions they’ve reached regarding the Minister of Interior following the Port Said massacre in order to set an example of following through with PA demands.
“We must have a Cabinet that does not have a guardian, not the military council and not anyone else,” he said.
Councilor Mahmoud El-Khodeiry, from the legislative affairs committee, said that before confidence is withdrawn, whoever is responsible for the intervention in judicial affairs must be held accountable.
“If the current Cabinet leaves without us knowing who is behind this arrogant intervention in judicial matters then this will happen again with the next Cabinet because it’s obvious that this party is more powerful than the government,” he said.
MP Mohamed El-Sawi put the blame on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, saying, “[SCAF] must apologize to the Egyptian people for their ill-management of this case.”