The People’s Assembly (the lower house of Egypt’s parliament) devoted a special session on Wednesday afternoon to discussing proposed legislation aimed at prohibiting figures associated with ousted president Hosni Mubarak from contesting upcoming presidential elections. The assembly reportedly decided to convene after several MPs expressed fears that the bill, drafted by the moderate-Islamist Wasat Party, might be ruled unconstitutional. “The problem is that the bill contradicts Article 26 of the constitutional declaration [issued in March of last year by the ruling military council and approved via popular referendum], which does not set any conditions on the presidency,” said Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Mohamed Attia. “Once the law is passed by the assembly, it must be scrutinised by the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) to determine its constitutionality.” Echoing the opinion of most MPs, Attia added that “any undue haste in passing the law will make people think it was tailored to serve the needs of a particular group or to prevent a particular person from contesting the presidency.”
With surprising speed on Monday, the assembly’s legislative and constitutional affairs committee approved the draft law, the final text of which reads: “It is forbidden for anyone who occupied leading positions during the ten years before 11 February 2011 [the day of Mubarak’s ouster], either in the presidency or in the now-defunct National Democratic Party (NDP), to serve as president of the republic, vice president or prime minister for a ten-year period.” The draft law, submitted by Wasat Party MP Essam Sultan, is a modified version of Law 131 of 2011, which calls for corrupt officials to be removed from leading public positions.
Addressing the assembly on Sunday, Sultan accused Omar Suleiman, Mubarak’s intelligence chief and one-time vice-president, of corruption. He added that Suleiman – who officially launched his presidential bid the same day – “must be prevented from contesting the presidency at all costs.” Sultan added: “The first step in this direction will be in the form of drafting a law aimed at stopping the likes of Suleiman from entering elections.”