By Safaa Abdoun
CAIRO: People’s Assembly Speaker Saad El-Katatny ended Wednesday’s session shortly after it started because Cabinet ministers were absent.
“I’m telling the government and the Egyptian people that the [PA] you voted for is capable of withdrawing the confidence from the government and determining the responsibilities of the prime minister,” said El-Katatny.
The Freedom and Justice Party, which dominates the parliament and in which El-Katatny is a member, has 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 until it reiterated its plan in a statement released earlier this week.
Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Fayza Aboul Naga was quoted by state-run Al-Ahram as saying that the military council had already ruled out the possibility of a no-confidence vote. The military-issued constitutional decree doesn’t give such powers to parliament, she said.
Wednesday’s session was first adjourned for half an hour to wait for the ministers, said to be stuck in traffic. Angry MPs voted to end the session shortly after it resumed when the ministers failed to show up.
“This is an insult to the People’s Assembly,” said MP Hussein Ibrahim, head of the FJP parliamentary bloc. “It is unacceptable. We are not like any of the previous PAs,” he added.
Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Mohamed Atteya, who was present at the session, objected to the phrase MP Mohsen Radi said: “kicking out the government.” El-Katatny ordered the word be removed from the minutes.
“The Cabinet of Ministers weekly meeting is held on Wednesday. This is well known. I just came from the Investment Authority [where the meeting was held],” said Atteya. The authority is on eastern side of town, while the parliament is in Downtown Cairo.
MP El-Badry Farghaly said that the only reply to what the government is doing is to just adjourn the session. “We’ll sit here and discuss a government that is not even listening, adjourning the session is the only suitable reaction,” he said.
However, liberal MP Amr Hamzawy was against the motion. “We have a responsibility to the people who have elected us. There are reports to be discussed and procedures to take, so we can’t put all this on hold,” he said.
“We can take the necessary procedure when a minister is absent through various tools and mechanisms,” he added.