Tension between judicial and legislative branches following Abdul Aal’s statements

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Speaker of the parliament Ali Abdul Aal said on Monday that the parliament would not consider any judicial verdicts regarding the Red Sea islands agreement during the discussions about the agreement, according to state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram.

Abdul Aal’s statements came following tensions between members of parliament (MPs) about whether or not the parliament should discuss and vote on the agreement of the maritime border demarcation between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, known as the Red Sea islands agreement, following a judicial verdict annulling the agreement.

“ِFor the thousandth time, the verdict and nothingness are one and the same, and we will not allow any authority to assault the parliament,” Abdul Aal said.

The State Council announced the verdict to annul the agreement in June 2016, affirming Egyptian sovereignty over the islands.

In April 2016, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Saudi King Salman bin Abdelaziz Al-Saud attended the signing ceremony of several cooperation agreements in various fields, according to the State Information Services (SIS). “Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and Saudi deputy crown prince Mohamed bin Salman bin Abdelaziz signed an agreement on the maritime border demarcation between Egypt and Saudi Arabia,” read the statement.

The decision would not be the first judicial verdict overpassed by the parliament, as a conflict over the constitutionality of seating an MP instead of another erupted following the decision of the Cassation Court to annul the membership of MP Ahmed Mortada Mansour and grant Amr Al-Shobaky a seat in the parliament instead.

Al-Shobaky had legally challenged the parliamentary election results in the Dokki electoral district by filing a lawsuit, as the court later announced that re-examination of the voting cards proved that the results were in favour of Al-Shobaky.

Hence, Al-Shobaky was granted parliamentary membership, without requiring new elections to take place in the constituency of the Dokki district, where both candidates ran for the position.

However, Al-Shobaky has not been seated to date.

MP Osama Heikal said in a press conference in May that seating Al-Shobaky is against the parliament’s bylaws, clarifying that for an MP to be seated after one is expelled, he must run for new elections.

The parliament’s Committee of Legal and Constitutional Affairs examined the court verdict and decided that Mansour’s membership should be nullified. However, Al-Shobaky remained unseated.

Article 107 of the Egyptian constitution stipulates that the Cassation Court is specialised in the judgment of the validity of membership of MPs, whereas if the court decided to annul the membership, it will be revoked on the date the parliament is notified.

Meanwhile, the parliament and the judiciary have had tensions over the past year, particularly when the parliament introduced a draft law to amend the existing Judicial Authority Law.

Al-Sisi ratified in April the parliament’s amendments to the Judicial Authority Law, which granted him the power to select the heads of judicial authorities after their general assemblies nominate the three most senior judges.

Judicial bodies described it as a violation to the independence of the judiciary, expressing their rejection to the new amendments.

Nonetheless, the State Council’s general assembly only nominated one candidate, instead of three, to chair the council, as stipulated by the new amendments to the Judicial Authority Law.

 

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