Egypt's political parties meet with PM ahead of elections
Political parties in Egypt have raised concerns about the country's controversial protest law during meetings with the PM. (AFP/File)
Egypt's Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab met on Sunday with representatives of the Independence Current, as part of a series of sessions he has been holding with various political forces over the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Judge Ahmed El-Fadali, leader of the Independence Current, told Al-Ahram's Arabic news website before the meeting that the movement intends to propose increasing the number of individual seats in parliament from 420 to 460.
The Independence Current is a political coalition founded by El-Fadali and comprised of the Tourism Workers syndicate, the New Independents Party, Al-Entemaa' Party and other political figures. The current is facing charges of affiliation with figures from the regime of ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
El-Fadali himself has been accused of being involved in the infamous Battle of the Camel in Tahrir Square during the 2011 uprising, in which thugs on horses and camels attacked protesters.
El-Fadali mentioned that the electoral districts law as well as guarantees on the transparency and fairness of upcoming parliamentary elections will be included in the discussions.
The prime minister's series of meetings with political forces started last month with a session with the Democratic Current coalition, which includes the Constitution Party, the Egyptian Popular Current, the Socialist Popular Alliance and other parties.
In that meeting, the politicians proposed amendments to the country's controversial protest law – which bans all but police sanctioned demonstrations and has imprisoned hundreds. They also raised the matter of farmers' problems and students' rights, while confirming they will remain unified against terrorism.
The mostly leftist parties demanded that students participate in writing a university bylaw regulating the rights and freedoms of student life and campus unions and elections, among other issues.
Hamdi El-Sotouhi, president of the Justice Party, said in press statements that the prime minister agreed to look into their criticism of the electoral law.
The second such meeting was held earlier this month with the Al-Wafd Al-Masry coalition that mainly includes the Wafd and the Egyptian Social Democratic parties. In the meeting, Mahlab pledged to guarantee a free fair parliamentary election which was the main focus of the session.
Later the same week, the prime minister met with the Egyptian Front coalition, where he emphasised the importance of having a ''strong parliament that backs a strong cabinet and president.''
The Egyptian Front is a coalition of a number of parties, such as the Congress Party, the Egyptian Movement Party and others. On Sunday, the Egyptian Front announced it had merged with the coalition of Kamal El-Ganzouri, former prime minister under Mubarak as well as the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) in the transitional period after the 2011 uprising.
The Egyptian Front coalition proposed dividing the country into 420 constituencies, each to be represented by one parliamentarian, according to press statements from Yahia Qadri of the Egyptian Front.
A spokesman for the prime minister, Hossam El-Qawish, told Al-Ahram that the politicians' recommendations will be sent to the committees responsible for drafting and amending laws.
El-Qawish also said that the contents of the meetings will be discussed within the cabinet.
Ibrahim El-Heneidy, minister of transitional justice, said in an interview with Al-Ahram's daily newspaper that the cabinet is expected to approve the electoral constituencies' law in its meeting on Wednesday.
The minister said that the key features of the law have been drafted and that the Egyptian cabinet discussed redrawing the country's electoral constituencies last week.