Katatny: Parliament cannot dissolve government

People’s Assembly Speaker Saad al-Katatny put an end to Parliamentary efforts to bring down Kamal al-Ganzouri’s government Thursday following a joint meeting of two Parliamentary committees, but continued to criticize the government, using security forces’ failure to contain violence in Abbasseya as an example of the government’s failure.

Katatny said the incidents in Abbasseya cannot go unpunished, adding that the government bears the responsibility.

“It is every citizen's right to demonstrate, even if the place for the protest is unsuitable,” Katatny said in the meeting, according to state-owned MENA news service.

Security bodies should give demonstrators the opportunity to protest and not allow outside armed elements to infiltrate demonstrations, he added.

Katatny said Parliament is following the massacre closely and that MPs have gone to the site of the clashes to investigate the government’s inability to contain the violence. Parliament will not give up on any Egyptian citizen, will defend the right for protest and will bring those who did not fulfill their obligations to justice, he added.

Katatny said in a press statement following the meeting that Parliament does not have the authority to dismiss or to withdraw confidence from the current government.

“There are only two solutions for the current crisis between Parliament and the government: either the SCAF dismisses the government or the government submits its resignation, especially after Parliament rejected the briefing delivered by Ganzouri [in February],” Katatny said.

Over the past months, Parliament — in which the Freedom and Justice Party holds around 43 percent of seats — has sought to dismiss the Ganzouri cabinet and form a national consensus government. However, the SCAF has refused these demands and said it intends to keep the current government in place until the end of the transitional period in late June.

A number of secular MPs severely criticized Katatny for his decision Sunday to suspend parliamentary sessions for a week over the cabinet’s refusal to resign.

In a speech, Katatny summarized the nature of conflict with the cabinet and proposed that the People’s Assembly suspend its sessions for a week, especially because Parliament had objected to the cabinet’s agenda and accused it of creating problems and refraining from confronting the security failure.

In a letter to Katany, MP Mohamed al-Omda, the deputy head of Parliament’s Legislative Affairs Committee, noted Katany’s violation of the assembly’s internal bylaws by announcing the decision to suspend sessions on Sunday. Omda said the bylaws stipulate that 20 MPs or a representative of one parliamentary bloc must submit such a proposal for discussion, but Katatny made the decision suddenly and took a vote without discussion.

A large number of MPs declared their rejection of the decision in a memorandum signed by 158 members that included representatives from the Nour Party, the second largest parliamentary bloc. They decided against a sit-in after Katatny met with them and said that one of the SCAF’s leaders had discussed a cabinet reshuffle with him, which would include a number of ministers who had recently caused problems with Parliament.

Katatny also said the Constituent Assembly would be formed within a week after parties and political forces came to the required consensus on the criteria for selecting its members.

The first Constituent Assembly was dissolved following a judicial decision in early April on grounds that Islamist parties dominated it and that other societal factions were not adequately represented.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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