By-election kicks off to fill vacant seat of dismissed lawmaker Tawfik Okasha
Member of Parliament Tawfik Okasha

CAIRO: A by-election round has kicked off Saturday at the electoral constituency of Talkha and Nebaroh in Egypt’s Delta governorate of Daqahlia to fill the vacant seat of MP Tawfiq Okasha who was dismissed in March following his meeting with Israel’s ambassador to Egypt, Youm7 reported.

A total of 16 candidates will run in the electoral round scheduled for April 16 and 17, the Daqahlia electoral commission announced late March. The electoral process for Egyptians abroad kicked off Friday in 139 Egyptian embassies and consulates around the world and is scheduled to end Saturday.

The seat must be filled in order to maintain a quorum of seats, the head of the constitutional law dept. at Mansoura University Salah Fawzy told Al Ahram Thursday.

The Egyptian constitution passed in 2014 states “in case a seat of a House of Representatives becomes vacant at least six months prior to the expiry of his tenure, the vacant position must be filled in accordance with Law within sixty days from the date on which the House reports the vacancy.”

The term of the new member shall be the remainder of the term of his predecessor, Fawzy added.

During a parliament session on March 2, the Egyptian House of Representatives voted to revoke Okasha’s membership for “violating the ‎principle of the separation of powers and disrupting ‎Egypt’s parliamentary rules,” parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Al was quoted as saying by Youm7.

The decision came after the parliamentary committee tasked with investigating Okasha’s meeting with the Israeli ambassador to Cairo Haim Koren in his home last week recommended a year-long suspension from the parliament.

Okasha’s meeting with the Israeli Ambassador to Cairo stirred public controversy and outrage among MPs who called the move as a “sign of normalization” with Israel; a notion that has been rejected by public opinion in spite of the bilateral diplomatic ties of the two countries.

In a talk show aired at his Al Faraeen T.V. channel early march, Okasha asserted he had informed intelligence services of the ambassador’s visit adding that “there is no penalty against hosting a foreign ambassador.”

Okasha won the highest number of votes among independent candidates in his electoral constituency with over 90,000 votes. He was dismissed less than two month after the long-awaited Egyptian parliament convened in January this year.

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