About 50 MPs from the Egyptian People’s Assembly, including parliamentary support staff, took part in two workshops on Sunday 6 and Monday 7 May. Organised by the Egyptian People’s Assembly and the UK’s Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), topics included setting a structure for the Egyptian Parliament, including its ‘bylaws’ – or rules and procedures – and a session on the UK’s parliamentary system.
The workshops are part of a wider, 10-session induction programme for the Assembly. Developed by WFD at the request of Dr Saad El Katatni, Speaker of the Assembly, the programme has been put together in collaboration with local Egyptian and UK experts, including the House of Commons.
The sessions, set to run until July this year, focus on supporting the parliament in its oversight role - including financial; the role of parliamentary committees; parliamentary ethics; the legislative process; parliament’s role in protecting human rights; and parliamentarians relationship with their constituents and the media.
Commenting on the programme and Sunday’s official launch, Dr Katatni said,
“In light of the fact that most MPs have been elected for the first time with no particular legislative expertise, and the recent formation of the Egyptian Parliament, we welcome the co-operation of international parliaments and other specialised organisations to share their knowledge. This international exchange of experience would have a positive effect on Egypt’s democratic transition and in building effective political systems and institutions.”
Speaking about the programme WFD Chief Executive Linda Duffield said, “There are significant expectations on the Egyptian Parliament. All parliamentarians, whether in government or opposition, have a crucial role to play in ensuring the success of the reform agenda which Egypt has embarked upon. The technical training that we can deliver, and the opportunity to share experiences with members of the UK Parliament, should help give the People’s Assembly the tools it needs to fulfil its role in Egypt’s democratic transition.
“These first sessions were attended by members of all parties and have raised interest in the technical assistance that we can offer the parliament. The People’s Assembly is addressing some important political, security and economic issues. It was really encouraging to see the interest from those MPs who came for the launch and initial workshops and their willingness to exchange ideas and experiences. There is real interest in the topics we will be covering during the rest of the programme.
“The UK has a long parliamentary history, which has evolved in response to the expectations and demands of its people and the Westminster model has many lessons and experiences to share. But this is always a two way process from which we seek fresh ideas as well,” said Ms Duffield.
WFD has been working in the Middle East and North Africa since 2006. It has responded to many requests for assistance in strengthening democratic institutions and reforming governance, working with local partners and helping to build bridges across the region. In the wake of the Arab Spring, WFD has developed new programmes in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia and extended its parliamentary strengthening programmes in Lebanon and Iraq.