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Viewing cable 09CAIRO323, PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER ON UPCOMING LEGISLATION

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09CAIRO323 2009-02-23 12:12 2011-02-16 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Cairo
VZCZCXRO9780
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHEG #0323 0541231
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 231231Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1701
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L CAIRO 000323 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR NEA/ELA, NSC FOR PASCUAL 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/17/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV KDEM KISL IR EG
SUBJECT: PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER ON UPCOMING LEGISLATION 
 
REF: 2008 CAIRO 2577 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Margaret Scobey, for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1.(C) In a February 17 meeting with People's Assembly Speaker Fathi Surour, the Ambassador inquired about rumors that parliament will debate amendments to the NGO Law during its current session (which ends in July). Surour implied it would be unlikely for the law to come up this session, commenting that to date he has not received any suggested amendments to the law from the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) or the presidential palace. He stressed that it is "critical" for the GOE to continue its current policy of requiring NGO's who receive foreign funding to obtain government approval: "this helps us guard against the funding of terrorist groups." The Ambassador encouraged Surour that, should NGO-related legislation move forward, he carefully examine it to ensure that while it maintains adequate controls on possible terrorist financing, it also promotes the flourishing of NGO's and civil society, whose activities greatly benefit Egypt.

2.(C) Surour highlighted that the NDP is currently discussing amending the Political Rights Law to add 56 new seats (2 per province) to the People's Assembly designated specifically for women, resulting in the legislature growing to a total of 510 members (reftel). He said that this change is being studied in tandem with planned amendments to the Elections Law which will re-shape Egypt's electoral system (Note: Egypt currently has a single-member district/first-past-the-post electoral system, but is planning to move to a "mixed" system, with some percentage of parliamentary seats being run on party lists, and a smaller percentage remaining as single-member district.) Surour emphasized that decisions on the Electoral Law are "difficult," and still being debated within the NDP. The timing of the changes remains uncertain, although he noted they will have to occur before the spring 2010 Shura Council elections.

3.(C) In a non-sequitur, Surour commented that "some sources" report that the US and UK are "playing with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB)" in order to pressure the GOE, and delivered a lengthy monologue about the dangers of Iran, alleging that the Iranians are "playing through the MB." The Ambassador replied that the US stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Egypt in facing the Iranian threat. She underlined that there is no direct USG channel with the MB as an organization, but noted that the Embassy does have relationships with a variety of parliamentarians, including some independents, whom we meet with infrequently (Note: The 86-member MB parliamentary bloc are officially "independents.").

4.(C) Surour noted that he is unsure about whether he will travel to Washington again this year, due to scheduling issues (Note: Surour visited the US in spring 2008, supported by a USAID grant focused on parliamentary exchanges. End note.) The Ambassador encouraged him and/or a senior delegation of parliamentarians to visit. SCOBEY