Thursday, December 08, 2005

Parliament, the government and the constitution

Fahed el Fanek points out yesterday that the threat of parliament dissolution is a direct violation of the spirit of the constitution, which requires the executive branch to obtain confidence from the legislative, and not the other way around. This is an important point, since any talk of reform is simply just talk if the preeminence of the executive is to continue.

This threat started when there was a mutiny in the parliament at the time of the formation of the Badran government. The mutiny was aborted through the forced resignation of Basem Awadallah and the subsequent modification of the cabinet. The king later sternly warned the parliament, and the implied threat of dissolution was eminent. Now, the parliament seems to be going along with the Bakhit cabinet, but the question that this episode raises is profound. Should the parliament be a rubber stamp, or should it be allowed to perform its mandate? Various laws, such as an apparently regressive "reformed" income tax law are on the agenda. Haidar Rasheed at Alarab Al Yawm suggests that this particular legislation will be a test as to whether "reform" will be imposed, or whether the parliament will be allowed to do its job. I agree with Fahed Khitan, also at Alarab Al Yawm, that the executive should not be trusted with everything.

Much ink has been used to talk about the need to reform, and it looks like the National Agenda has been shelved. In any case, there was no discussion concerning changes in the parliamentary system anyway. The mandates of the various branches of government are still clear. In essence, my point is that we need to respect the letter and spirit of the constitution and the separation of authority. The calls for reform and democracy don't square with circumventing the parliament, as I wrote earlier.

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