Egypt’s parliament has convened for the first time in almost four years since the chamber was dissolved.
Sunday’s session in expected to be the first of many to focus on ratifying dozens of laws put in place by Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the military general who deposed Mohamed Morsi as president on July 3, 2013.
Egypt’s last parliament was dissolved in 2012 by the top court in the country less than a year after it was elected in what was seen as the country’s first democratically elected chamber.
Morsi attempted to reinstate the parliament following his election that year, but was shot down by the courts in a move seen to strengthen the military that deposed him a year later.
Sisi’s government has waged a crackdown on opposition forces, resulting in the imprisonment of over 40,000 people across the country, as well as laws restricting street protests and press freedoms, and giving the police vast powers.
Sisi and his supporters have defended these moves, undertaken without a parliament in place, as necessary to combat “terrorism”.
Nevertheless, his rule has come under much scrutiny from human rights groups, and critics expect his powers to expand under the shadow of a parliament.
They say parliament’s role will be similar to that under Hosni Mubarak, the former leader, giving the president even wider powers.
Sisi’s takeover has also been marked by a string of deadly attacks in the Sinai Peninsula as well as in the capital Cairo.