Egypt's parliament names speaker in first session
Egypt's parliament on Monday elected Saad al-Katatni of the moderate Islamist Muslim Brotherhood to serve as speaker in the first parliamentary session since the party won a majority in legislative elections.
AFP - Deputies in Egypt's first post-revolution parliament on Monday elected Saad al-Katatni, a leading member of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood, as speaker.
Katatni won 399 votes out of 496 in the first session of the lower house of parliament since it was dissolved following a popular uprising that ousted veteran president Hosni Mubarak.
"We want to build a new Egypt, a constitutional, democratic and modern Egypt," Katatni said in a speech.
"Democracy will be the source of our parliament's power," he added in remarks greeted with applause.
Katatni, 59, has been serving as the secretary general of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood, which won 47 percent of seats in the first free elections since the revolt.
Egypt's Islamists clinched more than two thirds of seats in the lower house, or People's Assembly, in the elections which were held in phases between November and early January.
"We say to the Egyptian people and to the world that our revolution continues," said Katatni to more applause.
"Our eyes will not shut until our revolution is completed, with all its goals.
"We will not betray the blood of the martyrs or their sacrifices," Katatni said of the hundreds who died in mass nationwide protests calling for democratic change.
The Brotherhood, Egypt's best organised political grouping, had been widely expected to triumph in the polls but the surge by Al-Nur and high visibility of Salafi movements have raised fears about civil liberties and religious freedom.
Katatni sought to allay these fears.
"I stress that we respect freedom of opinion, opinions of the other. These are the pillars of democracy," he told deputies.
"This critical phase, in which your parliament was created, pushes us towards cooperation," he said.
The 508-member assembly was dissolved in February by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that took power when Mubarak was forced to step down.
Elections for parliament's upper house, the Shura Council, are to begin later this month and end in February. Then the two chambers will choose a 100-member panel to draft a new constitution.
"We must cooperate with our colleagues in the Shura Council to choose the committee that will draft a constitution that expresses all Egyptians," Katatni said.