Agati assigned to act as temporary justice minister

Tuesday 15-03-2016 08:48 PM

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail. Reuters photo

CAIRO, Mar 15 (Aswat Masriya) – Egypt's Prime Minister Sherif Ismail assigned on Tuesday Judge Magdy al-Agaty to act as temporary Justice Minister until a new minister assumes the post, which became vacant after Ahmed al-Zend was dismissed over remarks about Islam's prophet.

Agaty is currently the minister of legal and parliamentary affairs. He is also a senior judicial figure who assumed various high-ranking posts in the State Council, most recent of which was director of the legislative department.

Ismail ordered Zend to give up his position as Justice Minister on Sunday after he made controversial comments on television on Friday. 

In a talk show on Friday, Zend said he would jail a lawbreaker regardless of who he or she is, even if it is "the prophet", referring to Islam's Prophet Muhammad. 

Zend apologised but to no avail and many Egyptians took to social media to express their disapproval at the comments and even call for Zend's trial.

A new justice minister is expected to be appointed within days and no cabinet reshuffle is foreseen yet, Ismail said in a statement.

Ismail also presented on Tuesday the government's programme to President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and discussed its various aspects. The government is scheduled to present its programme to the House of Representatives on Mar. 27 as required by Egypt's constitution.

Article 146 states that the president tasks a prime minister with forming a government and introduce the government's programme to the parliament. If the parliament does not approve the government within 30 days, the president "appoints a Prime Minister who is nominated by the party or the coalition that holds the majority or the highest number of seats in the House of Representatives."

The removal of Zind also sparked legal debate regarding the constitutionality of the decision.

Constitutional experts held opposing views regarding the matter. Undersecretary of the House of Representatives Sayed Mahmoud al-Sherif told Aswat Masriya that the removal was constitutional as the parliament had not reviewed the current government's programme yet, hence there was no need for prior approval by the parliament.

However, Professor of the Philosophy of Law at Zagazig University and constitutional expert Mohammed Farahat disagreed, saying that the parliament should have been consulted before deciding to exempt Zend.

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