Egyptian business tycoon Naguib Sawiris says parliament was 'born dead'

Friday 01-04-2016 11:24 PM

Naguib Sawiris. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

CAIRO, Apr 1 (Aswat Masriya) - Egyptian business tycoon Naguib Sawiris said on Thursday that a parliamentary coalition formed by a former military intelligence officer is proof that “the state does not trust free parties that it has no control over.”

Speaking at the annual conference of the Free Egyptians Party, which he founded in the wake of he 2011 Uprising and which is represented with 65 seats in the 596-seat House of Representatives, Sawiris criticized the Coalition to Support Egypt, which was formed by former military intelligence Sameh Seif Alyazal. In an interview with Reuters in October, Alyazal had said that the coalition would "seek to curb the legislature's wide-ranging powers." 

The parliament "was born dead," Sawiris added in an excerpt from the conference published on the party's YouTube channel.

The unicameral parliament was elected in October and December 2015 and was inaugurated in January 2016 to complete the “road map to democracy” that was announced by then-Defence Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in 2013 after he led the military ouster of former president Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood following mass protests against his rule.

Sisi became president in 2014 after he made a sweeping victory in the presidential election.  

When it was formed, the parliamentary Coalition to Support Egypt sparked controversy and put the role of the parliament in the spotlight. Sawiris’s Free Egyptians Party refused to join it. 

He said on Thursday that the parliamentary bloc “is not a party. If it had been a party we would have been able to deal with it. We would want to know what their orientations are, their principles … plan.” 

He also said that the situation in the country is currently “very difficult” citing the losses dealt to the tourism sector. 

An EgyptAir plane hijack that occurred in March signals a grim outlook for Egypt's tourism sector, which was already suffering from the aftermath of the 2015 crash of a Russian plane in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. Years of political turmoil have taken a toll on Egypt’s economy, halving the state’s foreign reserves and driving away tourists.  

Separately, Sawiris has recently criticized the governor of the Central Bank of Egypt, Tarek Amer, in an op-ed published in al-Akhbar newspaper on Mar. 27. He accused Amer of blocking an acquisition by Orascom Telecom, which Sawiris owns, of CI Investment Capital. Sawiris wanted the acquisition to be funded through loans from banks, but Amer had said in a TV interview that he only put “rules” to regulate acquisitions. “We want the investor to come with money,” he said in the interview that was aired one night before Sawiris’s op-ed was published. 

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