“Egypt’s newly elected upper house of parliament picked an Islamist as its speaker on Tuesday, consolidating control by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party over the two legislative chambers,” AP reports.
2/28/2012 Egypt (AP) – Egypt’s newly elected upper house of parliament picked an Islamist as its speaker on Tuesday, consolidating control by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party over the two legislative chambers.
The election of pharmacology professor Ahmed Fahmy as speaker of the Shura Council came during the chamber’s inaugural session. Saad el-Katatni, like Fahmy a member of the Freedom and Justice Party, was elected speaker of the more powerful lower house, or People’s Assembly, on Jan. 23.
The Muslim Brotherhood is Egypt’s oldest and most powerful Islamic organization. Its Freedom and Justice Party members hold just under half of all seats in the 508-seat lower house and 106 of the Shura Council’s 180 elected seats. An additional 90 lawmakers are due to be appointed by the ruling generals who took over power when Egypt’s longtime authoritarian president Hosni Mubarak was ousted after a popular uprising a year ago.
Ultra-conservative Islamists known as Salafis made strong showings in elections for both chambers, finishing second behind the Freedom and Justice Party and giving parliament a distinct Islamic character. The two houses are due to hold a joint session later this week to select a 100-member panel to draft a new constitution, the main role of the chambers, chosen in Egypt’s first free elections in decades.
Liberal and secular activists who spearheaded the mass demonstrations that toppled Mubarak last February fared poorly in the election for the Shura Council, repeating their failure in voting for the People’s Assembly.