Egypt celebrated its reinstatement in the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) on Sunday, after a three-year suspension. The occasion was marked by the participation of a delegation of MPs, headed by Parliament Speaker Ali Abdul Aal, in IPU’s 134th assembly launched Saturday.
“The 2011 revolution, which led to the dissolution of parliament the following year, had left Egypt’s membership in abeyance. Egypt, which had first joined IPU in 1924, had been one of IPU’s oldest continuous members,” a Sunday press release by the IPU said.
Abdul Aal has worked to secure and improve international parliamentary relations since the opening of parliament and his election as its speaker on 10 January. Despite international support, Egypt continues to criticise the EU parliament following the latter’s recent resolution condemning torture and human rights violations in the country.
A delegation from the Egyptian parliament said Sunday it was working on a response to the EU parliament’s resolution, which highlighted in particular the unsolved murder case of Italian student Giulio Regeni.
The Egyptian parliament previously criticised the European Parliament’s resolution, arguing that any claims on Regeni’s case were unfounded until official investigations are concluded, and that the parliament had interfered in Egypt’s internal affairs by speaking of its human rights’ conditions.
MP Ahmed Saeed is heading the Egyptian parliamentary delegation working on the resolution. “The EU parliament unjustifiably inserted itself in Regeni’s case without waiting for official investigations to conclude, bearing in mind that the assassination of former prosecutor-general took 8 months to be resolved,” Saeed was quoted as saying by the State’s Information System website.
The Egyptian parliamentary delegation is hoping to visit the European Parliament in April. According to local media reports, MPs had attempted to organise the visit upon the release of the resolution but then postponed it after realising they had not coordinated the visit with the EU parliament, according to the available schedule.
“Our response will not be emotional, but rather based on scientific methods and evidence,” Saeed reportedly added, as he asserted coordination was taking place between the delegation, interior and foreign affairs ministries, and the state-affiliated National Council for Human Rights (NCHR).
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on Monday met with Director of the General Intelligence Services Khaled Fawzy, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, as well as the ministers of social solidarity, foreign affairs and interior, tasking them with “promoting a civilised image of Egypt to the international community”, according to a presidential statement.
The European Parliament resolution, voted for by 588 members, was issued on 10 March with 14 recommendations calling on Egypt to fulfil its commitment to its own constitution, as well as international conventions protecting human rights and civil freedoms, endorsing freedom of expression, and preventing torture practices and enforced disappearances.
The first three articles focused on the case of Regeni. The EU parliament firstly expressed its strong condemnation of “the torture and assassination under suspicious circumstances of EU citizen Giulio Regeni”.
Secondly, the EU parliament called on Egyptian authorities to provide the Italian authorities with “all the documents and information necessary to enable a swift, transparent and impartial joint investigation into the case of Regeni in accordance with international obligations, and for every effort to be made to bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice as soon as possible”.
Thirdly, the European Parliament tackled other issues of human rights’ abuses by stating that it “underlines with grave concern that the case of Regeni is not an isolated incident”.
But at the same time, the EU parliament’s resolution took into consideration the security challenges facing Egypt in countering terrorism and losing hundreds of its police and military forces.
Neither Saeed nor any other members of the parliament delegation were immediately available for further clarification, in addition to one MP’s decline to comment until they completed their work. The delegation is scheduled for a meeting Thursday following their meeting with the Foreign Affairs Ministry.