Tensions, violence erupt following Parliament suspension
Saad El Katatny, speaker of the Egyptian People's Assembly, announced on April 29, the suspension of the assembly's activities for a period of one week as a protest against the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) resistance to allow the parliament to appoint a new cabinet.
The decision represents an escalation of the tension between the Islamist-dominated parliament and the SCAF, only weeks before Egypt's presidential elections.
Ali Abdel Fattah, spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), told The Caravan that the decision "had been brewing for long enough."
"The decision to suspend the sessions is a form of polite, political protest from the parliament against the unwillingness of SCAF to meet the demands of the Egyptian people," Abdel Fattah added.
On the other hand, Emad Gad, liberal MP and founding member of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, explained to The Caravan that with his decision to suspend the parliament sessions, El Katatny imposed the will of his party, the FJP, on the rest of the parliament.
"We were all very surprised, no one saw that coming," said Gad. "I'm completely against the way the decision of the suspension was taken. The MPs didn't discuss the decision before El Katatny adjourned the session," he added.
"Why do we need a new cabinet if the new president will appoint one in one month?" Gad asked.
Many opposition blocs in the parliament have voiced their concerns regarding the abrupt manner by which El Katatney took the decision. Several MPs refused to leave the chamber and insisted on going to El Katatny's office to protest.
By April 30, non-FJP members collected 158 signatures for a petition demanding El Katatney to reverse his decision.
Ashraf Thabet, deputy parliamentary speaker, told The Caravan that the way the media is handling the "crisis" is "not helping."
"The problem is simple. Some members want the current cabinet gone, and the others do not. There is nothing we can do before the sessions resume," he said.
The suspension could not have come at a worst time. A few days later, supporters of former Salafi candidate Hazem Salah Abou Ismail marched to the Ministry of Defense to protest his disqualification from the presidential race.
They called for the electoral commission to resign and for an end to military rule.
Late last week, the demonstrations turned violent as unknown groups of men armed with knives, steel pipes and reported firearms attacked the protesters.
At least 11 people were killed before the military and police stepped in and cleared the streets.
Gad says political expediency has unfortunately outweighed the stability and security of the country.
"The FJP is using the parliament as a battlefield to pursue its political aims, not the Egyptian's desires for a stable country," he said.
An accusation to which the FJP's Abdel Fattah responded that "the parliament is Egypt's only elected body and [it] has the right to withdraw the confidence from the current inefficient cabinet."
Meanwhile, the FJP awaits a cabinet reshuffle before the sessions resume on May 6.
"We need to see whether the SCAF is willing to back the revolution or not, we need to see if they will appoint a real revolutionary cabinet or just change a few ministers," said Abdel Fattah.
"This is an anti-revolutionary government. This is a government that's leaving us with queues for bread and gas cylinders," he added.