The Egyptian Complains and Proposals Committee threw a political bombshell when its members unanimously agreed late on Monday to revamp a law that would politically isolate members of the former regime accused of corrupting political life.
The move seeks to abort the bids of former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq from running in the upcoming presidential elections.
Head of the committee, Talaat Marzouk, told Al Arabiya, that a new article will be added to a decree-law issued by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces last year. The addition, Marzouk said, would clearly ban Suleiman, Shafiq and other senior figures of the former regime from occupying senior public posts for 10 years.
“The Article we have agreed to add to the existing law states: Anyone who worked during the five years preceding the resignation of former president on Feb.11, 2011 in any leadership job in the institution of the presidency or of the government or was a member of the People’s Assembly or of the Shura Council representing the dissolved National Party or was appointed in any of those by the resigned president cannot be admitted to run for president of the republic or work as a vice president or prime minister or a minister for a period of 10 years starting from the date of former president’s resignation,” Marzouk told Al Arabiya.
The electoral commission has said 23 people have registered to run for the presidential elections. The commission will examine each applicant’s documents and announce the final list of approved candidates on April 25.
The Islamist-dominated parliament, however, will seek to pass the proposed reform before the electoral commission reaches its final ruling on presidential candidates.
“There is a desire to approve this addition rapidly in a plenary session of the parliament,” Marzouk said.
Secretary of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and Muslim Brotherhood Leader Muhammad al-Biltagi said, “This issue has become one of Egypt’s national security, and we must finish this draft law and see it come to light immediately; the public cannot accept what it dismissed on Feb. 10, when Omar Suleiman was the acting president.”
Human rights activist and independent Member of Parliament Amr Hamzawy, meanwhile, said the restriction that the proposed law places on political freedoms on certain individuals is “temporary” and not unlimited.
Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate for the presidential elections, Khairat al-Shater, described Suleiman’s bid to run for president was an “insult.”
“I consider his entry an insult to the revolution and the Egyptian people,” he said.
The existing law, known as the Treason Law, bans former regime figures found guilty of “corrupting political life during the last 30 years” from assuming the leadership of public service positions for five years from the date of their conviction or from the date when they were suspended from the People’s Assembly, Shura Council, or local councils.
More than half a million members of the dissolved National Democratic Party face charges that could lead to their isolation from political life for five years.
The Treason Law was previously applied in 1952 by the Free Officers against supporters of the Egyptian monarchy. The military regime used the law to entrench itself against a possible counter coup.
(Translated from Arabic original by Mustapha Ajbaili)