Member of Parliament Ilhamy Agina resigned on Sunday in the latest development in an ongoing spat between members of Egypt’s parliamentary Human Rights Committee and speaker of the house Ali Abdel Aal.
The fight broke out over a decision by head of the committee, Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat, nephew of former President Anwar al-Sadat, and nine other MPs, who decided to attend a recent conference in Geneva organized by the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue.
Deputy of the committee Atef Makhaleef subsequently filed a complaint against the visit with Abdel Aal, recommending that Sadat be punished with disciplinary action by the ethics committee as a result of his suspicious ties to foreign organizations.
Makhaleef contended that Sadat is using his position on the committee to forward the agenda of the US Embassy regarding human rights.
Several MPs aired their suspicion about the motivation for the trip during Sunday’s parliamentary session, and demanded that Sadat submit a detailed report to parliament and that overseas trips by MPs be regulated to reflect Egyptian national interests.
Sadat explained that the trip was organized in coordination with Egypt’s Foreign Ministry and other government entities and that he also informed the speaker of the house about it.
This is not the first time that Sadat and Abdel Aal, who has been accused of prioritizing his loyalty to the current government over monitoring parliament, have clashed publicly. Sadat previously questioned a move by parliament to increase military pensions by 10 percent. Abdel Aal chastised Sadat for daring to speak about former serviceman, deeming it disrespectful.
Another MP defended the Geneva trip Sunday, asserting it was in the context of trying to fix Egypt’s reputation in the West after the damage he said has been inflicted by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Following several questions, Sadat agreed to submit a report. However, he defended the motivations of those who went on the trip, asserting that they are highly patriotic and honest individuals, and that their mission was to foster openness and prove to the international community that the Egyptian parliament and people are interested in the ongoing implementation of political and social rights.