Member of Parliament Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat was expelled from his seat in the House of Representatives on Monday night, following sustained criticism from other MPs after the outspoken critic of the current government allegedly leaked a copy of the contentious NGO law to foreign ambassadors.
Sadat, former representative of the Talla and Shohadaa constituency in the Monufiya governorate, faced disciplinary action for allegations that he forged the signatures of fellow MPs on two pieces of progressive legislation he submitted concerning NGOs and amendments to the Criminal Procedures Law. Parliament’s legislative affairs committee also accused Sadat of providing foreign organizations, including the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), with information on the internal affairs of Egypt’s House of Representatives.
Parliament secured the two-thirds majority necessary to expel Sadat, with 468 members voting in favor of the recommendation which was submitted by the legislative affairs committee. Eight members of Parliament voted against his expulsion while four others abstained from voting. However, 112 MPs did not attend the Monday session at all, many of whom were from the 25-30 Alliance and the People’s Coalition, which was founded by Sadat. MP Ahmed Sharqawy said that the absence was an attempt to prevent Parliament from reaching the quorum necessary to approve the proposed disciplinary action.
“I was made a member of Parliament by the decision of the people who voted for me, and I left with my dignity,” Sadat told Mada Masr following his expulsion. He contested the notion that he had been expelled for forging MPs’ signatures, adding that he has filed a complaint with the prosecutor general to investigate the accusation.
“They said that I am leaking Parliament’s secrets to foreigners, but the foreigners said that they are not concerned with Parliament’s news,” he said. “I was not happy in a Parliament that does not play any role. It is enough that the people now know the truth — that Parliament treats MPs’ statements like military secrets.”
A number of MPs also called for Sadat’s Egyptian nationality to be revoked, and for his referral to the prosecution on charges of espionage.
“Sadat deliberately tried to demolish an institution [as important as] Parliament and sought support from abroad instead of evaluating Parliament’s performance,” said Mohamed al-Sewedy, head of the Alliance to Support Egypt coalition.
Alaa Abed, the head of Parliament’s Human Rights Committee and a former police officer, agreed.
“It is not possible for a parliamentarian who wants to reform Parliament to speak outside about everything that happens inside.”
Parliamentary Speaker Ali Abdel Aal ordered MP Hossam al-Rifai to be removed from Monday’s session after Rifai opposed calls to revoke Sadat’s nationality.
“The Egyptian people would never elect a traitorous MP,” Rifai said.
Mostafa Kamal Eddin, the head of the People’s Coalition, described Parliament after Sadat’s expulsion as “a disciplinary committee rather than a parliament.” He told Mada Masr that the decision was a long-planned politicized move that attempts to criminalize the release of official statements by MPs, just as speaking about the Parliament’s budget has recently come under legal scrutiny.
“Everyone knows that Sadat and his critical colleagues will receive their punishment one after another. It all started with Okasha’s expulsion,” he said, referring to the decision to expel MP Tawfiq Okasha, who was suspended in March last year for “violating the law and Parliament’s bylaws,” according to Kamal Eddin.
“We have agreed on inventing new accusations to punish MPs,” he told Mada Masr.
The decision to expel Sadat came less than one month after he questioned Abdel Aal regarding the Parliament’s budget on January 29. Sadat’s questions centered on the LE18 million spent on purchasing three cars for the speaker and his two deputies. On January 30, Parliament referred Sadat to the parliamentary ethics committee, which was followed by a wave of attacks from Abdel Aal and a number of MPs.
On February 12 the committee recommended Sadat be expelled for forgery and communication with foreign organizations, adding a further disciplinary measure that barred Sadat from attending parliamentary sessions for nine months for supposedly leaking the NGO law to the Polish Ambassador in Cairo. This accusation stems from a complaint submitted by Social Solidarity Minister Ghada Waly to Parliament in November.
Bahaa Eddin Abu Shaqa, head of Parliament’s legislative affairs committee, said that the committee had investigated the allegation against Sadat of “publishing Parliament’s internal secrets to international organizations” by contacting Martin Chungong, Secretary General of the IPU to which Sadat had sent official statements.
Inquiring about the nature of statements, Parliament asked whether they were sent at the request of the union or were based on a consultancy agreement between Sadat and the IPU.
Abu Shaqa asserted that Chongong’s response indicated that the union did not request any information concerning Egypt’s Parliament from Sadat or any other MP. The IPU’s response outlined that it received a number of statements sent voluntarily by the MP, and did not respond to any of them.
“I’m the head of a party and an MP. I send my opinions to local and international newspapers. These statements include my personal political views in different fields, and I sent the statements to IPU as part of a huge database of contacts that includes newspapers, public figures, Egyptian, Arab and international organizations,” Sadat said.
He asserted that the IPU’s response confirmed suspicions that Parliament is targeting him.
Translated by Mai Shams El-Din