General Sherif Seif Eddin Hussein Khalil was sworn in on Thursday as the new head of the Administrative Control Authority (ACA), replacing Major General Mohamed Irfan, according to the official spokesperson for the president.
However, the legality of the sudden appointment is not clear, as the Constitution requires that the head of the ACA must be confirmed by Parliament, and that the ACA head cannot be dismissed during the duration of his or her term — Irfan’s term was to end in April 2021 — except under one of the conditions outlined in the dismissal of heads of regulatory bodies law issued in July 2015.
Kamel Amr, the head of Parliament’s Defense and National Security Committee, tells Mada Masr that the decision to appoint a new ACA chief has not yet been presented to Parliament due to the current recess. It is customary for ministers and regulatory officials, he adds, to receive parliamentary approval after they have been sworn in by the president and they can still be rejected. Therefore, it is not necessary to present the decision to Parliament before it is issued.
Article 216 of the Constitution, however, presents a different procedural order: “The president of the republic appoints the heads of regulatory bodies and agencies, which must first be approved by a majority in Parliament, for a single term of four years,” the article stipulates. “They cannot be legally removed from their positions except in certain cases, noting that they must abide by similar rules to ministers.”
A judicial source, who spoke to Mada Masr on condition of anonymity, says that Irfan’s dismissal amounts to a clear violation of the Constitution and law.
According to the source, there are four situations in which the head of a regulatory body can be dismissed in accordance with the 2015 law: when there is credible evidence that the official has harmed the country’s safety or security, lost trust or respect, violated the duties of their office in a way that harms Egypt’s interests or those of the public, or violated the terms of office for non-medical reasons.
In March 2016, Sisi issued a decree to remove Hesham Geneina as head of the Central Auditing Authority, after he was brought before State Security Prosecution on charges of “endangering public peace and weakening the prestige of the state and trust in its institutions.” Geneina’s dismissal was thought to be a result of his 2015 comments about the extent of state corruption. The New Cairo Misdemeanor Court upheld a guilty verdict against Geneina for “spreading false news” and issued a one-year suspended sentence and a LE20,000 fine.
The president’s office has yet to provide a reason for Irfan’s dismissal, according to the judicial source, nor has the office justified the decision to appoint Khalil without waiting for the upcoming parliamentary session, which will start in October.
Meanwhile, member of Parliament Mostafa Bakry tweeted on Thursday that Sisi has already appointed Irfan as adviser to the president on governance and databases. If true, Irfan’s eligibility to assume a new position indicates that he has not violated any of the rules set by the law, the source points out. This would make Khalil’s appointment as the new head of the ACA unconstitutional and legally void, which would require Irfan to serve the rest of his term until 2021.
In March 2017, Sisi issued Presidential Decree 152/2017 to appoint Irfan as the head of the ACA for four years, a period that would span from April 5, 2017 until April 4, 2021.