“During the election, they were guilty of some irregularities but nothing compared to the phoney elections of the Mubarak years,” the clergyman said. “In order not to lose support, Islamic parties have adopted a low profile in this initial phase. In the past few days, they said that Christians and religious minorities would have the same rights as Muslim citizens. It is therefore premature to made good or bad predictions.”
Egypt’s post-Mubarak parliament met this morning (11 am, local time) for the first time since the downfall of Hosni Mubarak with a minute of silence to remember the martyrs of the Jasmine Revolution. The first session continued into the afternoon.
The first order of the day was the election of a speaker to the lower house, expected to be Freedom of Justice Party’s Mohamed el-Katatni.
Over the next few days, MPs will pick 200 members to the Constituent Assembly to discuss the transfer of power from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to the new parliament.
Elections to the lower house held between November 2011 and January 2012 saw the victory of the Freedom and Justice Party (Muslim Brotherhood), which has become the country’s largest winning 45 per cent of the vote and 235 seats in the 498-member parliament.
Al-Nour, a party linked to Salafist Islamic extremists, won about 20 per cent of the vote, and 123 seats.
The main secularist parties born after the revolution, the Wafd the Egyptian Bloc, won 38 and 34 seats respectively.
Moderate parties in parliament will have to monitor closely the actions of the majority and remain united to counter their most extremist wings.
“The first issue will be drafting the new constitution on which Egypt’s democratic future depends,” Fr Greiche said.
Currently, all the power is in military hands. “In this phase of transition, the military retains a veto power on changes parliament makes to the laws. They will exert their influence on the new constitution. However, we must wait for next June’s presidential elections to get a clearer picture. On that day, the armed forces will leave politics entirely.”
Many now fear new protests for the first anniversary of the Jasmine Revolution this Wednesday, 25 January.
Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi reiterated zero tolerance for violent protests. He also made allegations about foreign plots against the country.
As evidence of its goodwill, the SCAF ordered the release of 1,959 people arrested during last year’s protests.