Egypt’s parliament convened for its first post-Mubarak session on Monday nearly two months after the country first went to the polls and overwhelmingly voted Islamists into the assembly. One of the parliament’s first accomplished tasks was selecting a new speaker, Mohamed Saad el-Katatni, secretary-general of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). The parliament will also be responsible for choosing a 100-member assembly that will draft Egypt’s new constitution. El-Katatni’s selection as speaker highlights the power that the Islamists will likely have in influencing the constitution.
Over the weekend, Egypt’s electoral commission announced the election’s final results: While the FJP garnered 47.18 percent of seats, the Salafist Al-Nour Party came in second place with nearly 25 percent. In third, the liberal Wafd Party won nearly nine percent.
The Egyptian parliament convenes for its first post-Mubarak meeting.
The ruling military council, which still holds power, is supposed to relinquish its control after a new president is elected in June. According to a report by the BBC, however, Egypt’s liberals fear that the Muslim Brotherhood and the military will strike a power-sharing deal, with the military maintaining its privileges and perhaps handed a veto over foreign and defence policy, and the Brotherhood securing greater control over Egyptian society.
Illustrating what will likely be a rowdy coming months in Egypt’s new parliament, three lawmakers added their own language to the text of the oath that signed them in to office. An Islamist lawmaker added “God’s law” to the oath that pledges to respect the constitution and law, while two pro-reform lawmakers pledged to “continue the revolution” and “be loyal to its martyrs.” Meanwhile, outside, thousands of Egyptians marched to the parliament building to celebrate its first day as well as express their concerns.
Both the Egyptian people and the international community are watching Egypt’s parliament. Will the Islamists dominate and push their agenda? Will legislation focus on the economy and jobs? Will the military relinquish power to a president? Will individual rights and freedoms be upheld? While these questions cannot be answered, one thing is for sure: Egypt’s new parliamentarians will face mounting pressure in the coming months to carry Egypt into a new era.