Update: Parliament speaker accuses US of trying to divide Egyptians

US Senator John McCain’s thank-you to the Muslim Brotherhood and ruling military council for releasing suspects banned from travel aims to divide Egyptians, People’s Assembly Speaker Saad al-Katatny said Sunday.

“The statement is part of the atmosphere of sedition that the US government works in, aiming to create division among Egyptians,” Katatny said.

McCain had thanked the Brotherhood and its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, for resolving the crisis, in which the US had threatened to cut aid to Egypt over a court case that left 43 NGO workers — including Americans — facing criminal charges.

On Wednesday, Egypt released a travel ban on 19 foreign suspects in the case, sparking angry reactions from Parliament and discussion over the independence of Egypt’s judiciary.

They had been charged with receiving illegal funding, working at unlicensed NGOs and interfering politically in Egypt’s affairs.

The US government should say who it spoke to from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces or the Brotherhood so people can know who stood behind the decision to allow the suspects to leave, Katatny said.

“Generalization will spark strife,” he said.

He said he had “no secrets to disclose” about any deal to lift the travel ban, but that what is happening in Egypt behind the scenes is not good for the country and its judiciary.

“What’s the benefit? No political deals are taking place in the dark,” the speaker said. “If there was a deal like the prisoner swap ones, it should take place in public. People would have understood what happened if they had been informed about benefits.”

Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri and ministers in charge of releasing the suspects will be summoned to Parliament, Katatny said.

Katatny spoke at Cairo Airport on his way to Kuwait with a parliamentary delegation to participate in the 18th Arab Inter-parliamentary Union conference, which started Sunday and will last until Tuesday.

The delegation will attend meetings scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, according to state-run newspaper Al-Ahram. Before leaving, he said the meeting participants will discuss issues relating to Arab parliamentary affairs and pointed out that the Arab ruprisings will likely empower parliaments in the region.

Katatny, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood — whose party has the largest number of seats in Parliament — was elected speaker after the 25 January revolution, which ousted ex-President Hosni Mubarak.

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