Hassan Abdel Zaher is a Cairo-based contributor to The Arab Weekly.

  • Egypt Support Coalition chief denies manipulating parliament, On: Sun, 05 Nov 2017

  • Egypt looks to restore cotton to its rightful place, On: Sun, 29 Oct 2017

  • Despite risks, Egyptian workers cross into Libya, On: Sun, 29 Oct 2017

  • Egypt’s Nation’s Future Party seeks to build on youth vote, On: Sun, 15 Oct 2017

  • In Egypt, illiteracy rates down but problem remains, On: Sun, 15 Oct 2017

  • Egypt’s mosques: A study in art and faith, On: Sun, 08 Oct 2017

  • Egypt seeks to renew interest in Sinai’s religious sites, On: Sun, 10 Sep 2017

  • Egypt needs to automate railway network to prevent accidents, minister says, On: Sun, 20 Aug 2017

  • Egypt mediation hopes in Syria facing uncertainty, On: Sun, 13 Aug 2017

  • Al-Azhar looks to broaden appeal with Cairo Metro booths, On: Sun, 13 Aug 2017

  • Egypt foreign exchange reserves on the rise, On: Sun, 13 Aug 2017

  • Painters from Sinai fight terrorism with art, On: Sun, 30 Jul 2017

  • Egypt’s energy future is ‘bright,’ says head of parliamentary committee, On: Sun, 16 Jul 2017

  • We are fighting Qatar-backed militias: Libyan National Army, On: Sun, 18 Jun 2017

  • Egypt’s investment hopes clash with harsh realities, On: Sun, 21 May 2017

  • Dismay in Egypt as al-Azhar reform fails to materialise, On: Sun, 14 May 2017

  • Pope Francis’s visit boosts morale of Egypt’s Christians, On: Sun, 07 May 2017

  • Umrah no longer affordable for Egypt’s poor, On: Sun, 07 May 2017

  • Turning the Suez Canal Economic Zone into a magnet, On: Sun, 30 Apr 2017

  • In Egypt, polygamy has its apologists and nemeses, On: Sun, 30 Apr 2017

  • ISIS attacks exacerbate Egypt’s daunting challenges , On: Sun, 16 Apr 2017

  • Egypt may need more than state of emergency , On: Sun, 16 Apr 2017

  • New budget augurs fiscal gloom in Egypt, On: Sun, 16 Apr 2017

  • Egyptian Minister Abdel Ghaffar: There is ‘will’ to rescue scientific research, On: Sun, 09 Apr 2017

  • Key Egyptian legislator says poverty more dangerous than terrorism , On: Sun, 26 Feb 2017

  • Egypt minister defends borrowing strategy, On: Sun, 05 Feb 2017

  • Egypt’s Planning minister upbeat about future, On: Sun, 29 Jan 2017

  • The newly emerging face of terrorism in Egypt , On: Sun, 25 Dec 2016

  • Egypt’s population growth cause for concern, On: Sun, 18 Dec 2016

  • Egypt’s minister advocates ‘fighting terrorism through education’ , On: Sun, 04 Dec 2016

  • Egypt, West reaching deadlock over Libya?, On: Sun, 13 Nov 2016

  • Egypt-Ethiopia tension set to rise , On: Sun, 23 Oct 2016

  • Rights advocate sceptical about role of Egypt institutions , On: Sun, 16 Oct 2016

  • Studies on Ethiopian dam on Nile may come too late, On: Sun, 18 Sep 2016

  • Egyptian Finance minister: Reform ‘must start today, not tomorrow’, On: Sun, 11 Sep 2016

  • Reconciliation offered to Mubarak regime figures who repay state , On: Sun, 28 Aug 2016

  • Egypt, Turkey: Can they still make up? , On: Sun, 28 Aug 2016

  • Egypt’s church-building bill is milestone for Copts , On: Sun, 21 Aug 2016

  • Housing mostly unaccessible in Egypt, On: Sun, 07 Aug 2016

  • Egypt Support Coalition chief denies manipulating parliament

    Huge responsibility. MP Mohamed al-Suwaidi, head of the Egypt Support Coalition. (Egypt Support Coalition)


    2017/11/05 Issue: 130 Page: 11



    Cairo- The Egypt Support Coali­tion is the largest political force backing Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al- Sisi in parliament.

    The coalition, which controls 350 seats out of the 596 in parliament, said it is on a mission to defend and protect Egypt, not just support the president. Critics argue the coali­tion is using its parliamentary ma­jority to stifle dissent and silence opposition.

    “It is only about creating the nec­essary political force to push our country forward,” said MP Moham­ed al-Suwaidi, the coalition leader. “The opposition has total freedom to express itself but we are not sup­posed to listen to or let those who only want to talk waste the time of the legislature.”

    Opponents said the policy is not much different than the stran­glehold the National Democratic Party — the ruling party of former President Hosni Mubarak — utilised during decades of control over the legislature.

    “The coalition totally controls parliament and offers little room for those who have a different point of view to express themselves,” said MP Samir Ghattas, a left-wing independent opposition lawmaker. “Its members bully the opposition either into silence or expressing similar stances.”

    Ghattas said he has been a victim of this policy, including being for­cibly expelled from parliamentary sessions for voicing objections. He was subsequently referred to a special disciplinary committee for breaching parliamentary by-laws and “insulting parliament.”

    For Suwaidi and his parliamen­tary majority bloc, the ability to control debate is not based on a de­sire to silence opposition but a rush to enact legislation to address the many issues facing Egypt.

    Suwaidi, a well-known Egyptian businessman who turned to poli­tics in recent years, took over as head of the coalition in September 2016, succeeding Saad al-Gamal. To control this large coalition, Suwaidi works to coordinate positions, col­lect views and decide the direction the coalition should take on eco­nomic, political, security and social developments.

    He can often be found in the cor­ridors of parliament calling on coa­lition members, pushing for heavy attendance and calculating the number of votes that any bill is needed to pass.

    “Our coalition has a huge responsibility given our control of the major­ity of parlia­mentary seats,” Suwaidi said.

    “Coalition members consider the improvement of social servic­es, the fight against terrorism and the advancement of the economy their personal battle,” he added. “We have no time for political manipula­tion but politics is about rivalry and the opponents should know this.”

    The Egypt Support Coalition was formed two years ago, a short time before the first parliamentary elec­tions following the ouster of Islam­ist President Muhammad Morsi in 2013.

    Egypt Support Coalition includes 101 MPs from seven major political parties — the Homeland Defenders Party, Egypt My Country Party, Na­tion’s Future Party, the Congress Party, the Republican People’s Party, the Freedom Party and the Modern Egypt Party. The rest of its 249 mem­bers are independents.

    A veteran military officer, Sisi had little experience in Egyptian politics and his popularity seemingly rests on his independent stature and mili­tary background. Despite this, any president needs parliamentary sup­port to enact his plans. This is where the Egypt Support Coalition comes in.

    “There was a need for a major political force to back the president and the government inside parlia­ment to help them succeed,” said MP Maysa Attwa, a member of the coalition.

    It is morphing into more than just a government or Sisi-backing group. Its parliamentary majority gives it the ability to amend and influence bills and shape political debate in Egypt.

    One coalition member recently called for a bill lengthening the presidential term from four years to six years. Another effort was made to lift restrictions on the number of terms that a president can serve. Both calls saw debate around the role and powers of the president reach fever pitch ahead of Egypt’s presidential elections next year.

    Sisi has yet to officially say whether he intends to seek re-elec­tion. The Egypt Support Coalition has announced it would “mobilise” to launch a campaign to “demand” that Sisi runs.

    The coalition has put its full weight behind legislation that promises to revolutionise invest­ment procedures in Egypt and attract much-needed foreign in­vestments. It also pushed for the passing of an amendment to the criminal procedures law that aims to fast-track court trials.

    “Huge work is being done by the members of the coalition, all for the best interests of the people,” Su­waidi said.

    Editors' Picks

    The Arab Weekly Newspaper reaches Western & Arabic audience that are influential as well as being affluent.

    From Europe to the Middle East,and North America, The Arab Weekly talks to opinion formers and influential figures, providing insight and comment on national, international and regional news through the focus of Arabic countries and community.

    Published by Al Arab Publishing House

    Publisher and Group Executive Editor: Haitham El-Zobaidi, PhD

    Editor-in-Chief: Oussama Romdhani

    Managing Editor: Iman Zayat

    Deputy Managing Editor and Online Editor: Mamoon Alabbasi

    Senior Editor: John Hendel

    Chief Copy Editor: Richard Pretorius

    Copy Editor: Stephen Quillen

    Analysis Section Editor: Ed Blanche

    East/West Section Editor: Mark Habeeb

    Gulf Section Editor: Mohammed Alkhereiji

    Society and Travel Sections Editor: Samar Kadi

    Syria and Lebanon Sections Editor: Simon Speakman Cordall

    Contributing Editor: Rashmee Roshan Lall

    Senior Correspondents: Mahmud el-Shafey (London) & Lamine Ghanmi (Tunis)

    Regular Columnists

    Claude Salhani

    Yavuz Baydar

    Correspondents

    Saad Guerraoui (Casablanca)

    Dunia El-Zobaidi (London)

    Roua Khlifi (Tunis)

    Thomas Seibert (Washington)

    Chief Designer: Marwen Hmedi

    Designers

    Ibrahim Ben Bechir

    Hanen Jebali

    Published by Al Arab Publishing House

    Contact editor at:editor@thearabweekly.com

    Subscription & Advertising: Ads@alarab.co.uk

    Tel 020 3667 7249

    Mohamed Al Mufti

    Marketing & Advertising Manager

    Tel (Main) +44 20 6702 3999

    Direct: +44 20 8742 9262

    www.alarab.co.uk

    Al Arab Publishing House

    Kensington Centre

    177-179 Hammersmith Road

    London W6 8BS , UK

    Tel: (+44) 20 7602 3999

    Fax: (+44) 20 7602 8778

    Follow Us
    © The Arab Weekly, All rights reserved