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Egypt parliament backs Red Sea island transfer to Saudis

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Egypt's parliament approved a treaty ceding sovereignty over two uninhabited Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, House of Representatives Speaker Ali Abdelaal said on Wednesday.

The treaty must now be ratified by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a formality.

Earlier on Wednesday it had passed through an influential defence committee, the last potential stumbling block before become law.

Sisi's government last year announced a maritime demarcation agreement with Saudi Arabia, which has given billions of dollars of aid to Egypt, ceding control of the islands of Tiran and Sanafir to the Gulf kingdom.

Parliament's legislative committee agreed the treaty on Tuesday after heated debate, opening the way for a full vote on Wednesday.

In the legislative committe, the agreement passed with 35 MPs for and eight against, member of parliament Mostafa Bakry told AFP.

Courts had struck down the agreement, signed in April 2016, but a year later another court upheld it.

The deal is still under challenge in the constitutional court.

The accord had sparked rare protests in Egypt, Sisi accused of having bartered the islands for Saudi largesse.

The government has said the islands were Saudi to begin with, but were leased to Egypt in the 1950s.

Opponents of the agreement insist that Tiran and Sanafir are Egyptian.

On Tuesday evening dozens of journalists protested against the agreement in central Cairo, before being dispersed by police, journalists' union official Gamal Abdel Rehim told AFP.

Several were briefly arrested before being released but "three reporters are still detained, and contacts are being made with the interior ministry to get them released," he said.

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Muslim Global: Egypt parliament backs Red Sea island transfer to Saudis
Egypt parliament backs Red Sea island transfer to Saudis
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Muslim Global
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