Cairo: A week after one of its leaders was elected speaker of parliament, the Muslim Brotherhood on Tuesday dominated key committees in the People's Assembly, or the lower house of parliament.
Lawmakers of the group, banned for more than five decades, on Tuesday won in votes for chairing the bulk of legislature's committees. The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party holds nearly half of parliament whose elected chief is Sa'ad Al Katatni, a senior official in the party.
Results of votes held inside the legislature on Tuesday showed that an alliance led by the Muslim Brotherhood took over all but two of the parliamentary committees. Essam Al Erian, a veteran member of the group, became chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. The chairmanship of the Defence and National Security Committee went to Abbas Mokheimar, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood with a military background.
Committees of planning, industry, economy, manpower, Arab affairs, housing, culture, transport, human rights, health, legislation, education, complaints and religious affairs are now headed by lawmakers directly affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood or belonging to political parties that forged an alliance with the group in recent legislative election.
The committees of agriculture and ethics proved to be the only two exceptions. They were won by two members from Al Nour, an ultra-conservative Salafist party that secured 24 per cent of vote in the parliamentary election.
"These results are not surprising, given the massive win scored by the Brotherhood in recent election," said Mahmoud Hassan, a political expert. "The group was apparently interested in giving the stewardship of some committees to lawmakers, who are not among its members, but are noted for efficiency in certain fields. This happened with the Committee of Legislation, which is now headed by Mahmoud Al Kudairi, who is a prominent reformist and a former judge. The same happened with Mohammad Al Sawi, a former culture minister associated with a thriving culture centre in Cairo. He has become head of the (parliamentary) Committee of Culture," added Hassan.
"I think the Muslim Brotherhood with its long political experience is aware that it will be judged by its performance in parliament. The group is at pains not to be perceived as monopolistic, or dictatorial as Mubarak's party," Hassan said.
These committees used to be dominated by the now-disbanded National Democratic Party of former president Hosni Mubarak who was ousted in a popular revolt last February after 30 years in power. Islamists are widely seen as the biggest winners from the anti-Mubarak revolt that propelled them to the focus of Egypt's politics after decades of oppression.