By Heba Fahmy
CAIRO: Parliament speaker Saad El-Katatny urged a People’s Assembly committee during Monday’s session to present its response to the government’s statement by the end of this week for discussion, a step believed to be geared towards a no-confidence vote.
MP Hatem Azzam, representing the Civilization Party, questioned why it was taking the PA’s “special committee” so long to issue an official response to the government’s statement.
The Freedom and Justice Party, which dominates the parliament majority, had repeatedly expressed its intention to take a no-confidence vote to sack the military-appointed cabinet. With resistance from the ruling military council and arguments about the lack of legal provisions allowing the parliament to do so, the FJP seemed to be backing off.
Last week, the PA said that it would start procedures to pass a no-confidence vote after listening to statements from the ministers of international cooperation, aviation and justice regarding the NGO trial.
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.
MP Ashraf Thabet of Al-Nour Party and head of the committee responsible for responding to the government’s statement argued that the committee needed more time to finalize the wording of the response before it is presented to the PA.
He added that it would be ready by the beginning of next week.
Criticism against the government heightened after Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzoury’s statement to parliament last month, which again focused on the worsening economic conditions.
“This statement wasn’t appropriate for a transitional government that should have cited a specific plan to get through the three remaining months,” political science professor at Cairo University Karim Adel-Razeq told Daily News Egypt on Monday.
Appointed by the military council last November, El-Ganzoury is due to stay in office until a new president is elected. Egypt’s first presidential election after the ousting of Hosni Mubarak is slated for May 23-24.
On the other hand, Abdel-Razeq argued that assigning a new government with less than two months left before the election might not be in the country’s best interest.
“The new government won’t have enough time to get acquainted with the new post and issue decisions in less than two months,” he said, adding that the new president is expected to sack the government anyway.
The Muslim Brotherhood slammed the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) for maintaining the “failed” government in a statement issued on Sunday.
“Had these flagrant catastrophes occurred in any other democratic country, the government would’ve resigned immediately,” read the statement referring to the Port Said football massacre, which left over 70 dead last month, as well as the NGO case, which many see as compromising the independence of Egypt’s judiciary.
“It’s not in SCAF’s best interest to get into clashes with the PA to maintain a transitional government,” Abdel-Razeq said, “but it might believe it’s not in the country’s best interest to make such a drastic change in government with the upcoming presidential election.”
The MB statement refuted allegations that the PA doesn’t have the jurisdiction to pass a vote of no confidence against the government, in defiance to SCAF.
According to the PA bylaws, one of its authorities is to issue a vote of no-confidence against the government if it sees fit. Article 62 of the constitutional decree approves all previous bylaws and laws issued before the constitutional decree, according to the statement.
“The PA can even make criminal accusations against a minister or a ministry according to chapter 7 in the PA bylaws,” MB spokesperson, Mahmoud Ghozlan, told DNE.
Lawyer and professor of constitutional law at Cairo University, Raafat Fouda agreed, citing an article in the constitutional decree stating that the PA would take over its responsibilities in legislating laws and holding the government accountable for its actions, after its election.
“One of the main aspects of the PA’s responsibilities is interrogating the government and passing a vote of no confidence if it’s proven guilty,” Fouda previously told DNE.
Mohamed Morsi, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the FJP, echoed Ghozlan in a statement on Sunday, saying that the “trembling” government had to be replaced.
Ghozlan said that the 19 PA sub-committees refused the government’s statement. The Freedom and Justice Party, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, dominates around 47 percent of the PA.