Leadership Council for Human Rights

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Egyptian lawmakers divided over European Parliament resolution

A large portion of Egypt’s People’s Assembly has been up in arms over the European Parliament’s draft resolution condemning Egypt’s human rights record, according to Al-Ahram Weekly.

Speaker Fathi Sorour and several members of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) were infuriated at the accusations posed by the resolution. Sorour said that if the resolution passed, he would cut all ties with the European Parliament.

Last summer in Indonesia, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) passed an agreement that, the article says, rejected “interference in the internal affairs of members under the guise of advancing democracy and human rights.” Sorour believes the European Parliament resolution contradicts the IPU agreement. Sorour and Safwat El-Sherif, chairman of the consultative Shura Council, have decided to boycott meetings of the Euro- Mediterranean parliament’s Political and Economic Sub-committees in protest of the resolution. Sorour warned that if the resolution becomes final, “it will seriously damage relations with Egypt.”

President of the European Parliament Hans Gert-Poettering urged Sorour and other NDP members to abandon the boycott, in hopes of keeping lines of communication open between the European Parliament and Egypt.

NDP members have linked the resolution to both urgings from Israel, which they see as eager to shift attention from the situation in Gaza, and the fallout from the imprisonment of Ayman Nour, the former leader of the Ghad Party and runner up to Hosni Mubarak in Egypt’s 2005 presidential elections. The resolution calls on Egypt to immediately release Nour from prison.

Some Egyptian lawmakers such as Gamal, Zahran, an independent MP, disagree with Sorour’s reaction. “I would hope that Sorour will accept the resolution not as interference in internal affairs, but as a warning that the state of human rights in Egypt is becoming an international issue,” Zahran said.

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