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Egypt’s parliament holds first session

world Updated: Jan 23, 2012 23:23 IST

Egypt’s parliament began its first session on Monday since an election put Islamists in charge of the assembly following the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in February.


The session was opened by Mahmoud al-Saqa, 81, a member of the liberal Wafd party who, as the oldest member of the lower house, was acting as speaker. The session began with a moment of silence for those killed in the uprising against Mubarak.

One of parliament's first tasks is to pick a new speaker, expected to be Mohamed Saad el-Katatni, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, which won the largest number of seats in the election.

Liberals were pushed into third place behind the FJP and ultraconservative Islamist Salafis led by al-Nour party, the surprise runners up. The FJP says it controls almost half the 498 elected seats, with a few re-runs still to be held.

Although Islamists dominate, it is unclear whether they will form a single bloc in parliament, which will have a key role in drafting the new constitution. The Brotherhood has said it wants to be inclusive and ensure all voices in Egypt are heard.

Monday's session marks the revival of an assembly that in the early 20th century was a vibrant forum for the nation's aspirations and filled with deputies who vied with the monarch and Egypt's British overlords.