Egypt's Islamic party leader elected speaker
Updated: 2012-01-24 11:02
CAIRO - Egyptian lawmakers elected on Monday Mohamed Saad Katatni, secretary general of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB)'s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), as speaker of the new People's Assembly at the first session of the legislature.
Katatni won 399 out of 503 valid votes to defeat three other candidates, announced Mahmoud Sakka, the oldest deputy from Al- Wafd Party who temporarily presided over the first session. The meeting began at 11 am local time (GMT 0900 ) and ended on Monday evening.
They also elected Abdel Alim Dawoud from Al-Wafd party and Al- Nour Party member Ashraf Thabit as two deputies to the speaker.
The new lawmakers took their oaths one by one, before the voting for the speaker was conducted. Quarrels erupted among deputies about whether the candidates for the speaker should be given time to introduce themselves before the vote.
In his first speech after being elected, Katatni expressed gratefulness to the Egyptian people and the army forces. He vowed to continue working to achieve the aspirations of the people and build a modern, new Egypt.
"It is our duty to make this parliament the right pillar for democracy and revolutionary goals," he said. "We are in need of building a legal country based on justice and equality, reforming the education system which is a burden on the Egyptian families. We are responsible for providing medication and health care."
He meanwhile urged dialogue among different groups. "In this critical stage, we should cooperate with national powers and government to control the balance and push the economic cycle for the sake of our nation," he said.
Katatni once served as chairman of the MB administrative office in Minya and was later elected a member of the lower house in 2005. He was later elected leader of the MB parliamentary bloc, then a member of the MB's guidance bureau and spokesman for the group.
The FJP won nearly half of the 498 elected seats in the three- stage legislative polls. A total of 15 parties or coalitions have won seats in the new parliament. The top four winners are the FJP- led Democratic Alliance, 235 seats, or 47.2 percent, Al-Nour Party- led coalition 121 seats, or 24.2 percent, Al-Wafd Party, 38 seats and Egyptian Bloc, 34 seats.
Katatni was nominated as the FJP's candidate for the new speaker of the People's Assembly on Jan 16. The FJP's executive office has accepted Katatni's resignation from his secretary general post.
Also on Monday, Egypt's ruling military council chief Hussein Tantawi announced the transfer of legislative power to the new assembly. "We are ready to work as a team under the national flag, " Katatni read a letter by Tantawi to the new lower house.
According to the letter, "we are looking forward to the day when the elected president stands under the parliament by the end of June."
"We are waiting for an institutional committee representing all the society classes to set the Egyptian constitution," and the new lower house will put the improving of life of toiling as its first priority, it added.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian army will continue to be a protective armor for the nation, the letter said.
The Shura Council (the upper house) will start elections from late January through Feb 22. The two houses will select a 100- member committee to draft the new constitution. The presidential polls will be held in mid-June as military rulers have pledged to transfer power to civilians before July.
Mohamed Saad Katatni, secretary general of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), delivers a speech at the first session of the new People's Assembly (lower house of parliament) in Cairo, Egypt, Jan 23, 2012.[Photo/Xinhua]