Egypt’s New Islamist-Led Parliament Holds First Session

Egypt's new Islamist parliament

Egypt’s lower house of parliament on Monday holds its first session since a popular uprising ousted veteran president Hosni Mubarak, with Islamists dominating the assembly for the first time.

One year after the revolution, many Egyptians see the new parliament as the first sign of democratic rule, in sharp contrast to the toothless legislature that existed under Mubarak.

But the exact role of parliament remains unclear, with power remaining in the hands of the military generals who took power when Mubarak resigned last February.

The assembly’s first session was to convene at 11:00 AM (0900 GMT).

Egypt’s Islamists will control over two thirds of the seats after the country’s first open parliamentary elections, which kicked off in November and concluded earlier this month.

The long-banned Muslim Brotherhood won a crushing victory with 47.18 percent in landmark parliamentary elections through its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party.

The ultra-conservative Salafist Al-Nur party came second with 24.29 percent, with the liberal Wafd party coming in a distant third.

The People’s Assembly, or lower house, is made up of 498 elected MPs and 10 appointed by the ruling military.

Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), has said the 10 appointed MPs will include five Christians and two women.

Elections for parliament’s upper house, the Shura Council, are to begin later this month and conclude in February. Then the two chambers will choose a 100-member panel to draft a new constitution.

The SCAF has vowed to cede power to civilian rule by June when a new president is elected.