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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 December 2005, 14:29 GMT
Arabs inaugurate new parliament
Hosni Mubarak at the first meeting of Arab Interim Parliament
Some say the parliament lacks any democratic credentials
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has addressed the new Arab parliament in Cairo at its inaugural meeting.

The 88-seat body was set up to respond to pressure for democratic reform and would promote co-operation, he said.

The parliament has four representatives from each of the 22 Arab League states, but has no legislative powers and has provoked widespread scepticism.

Some countries have sent deputies from un-elected bodies while others have excluded any opposition participation.

Palestinian parliament speaker Rawhi Fattouh said the parliament would only be of value if it checked the actions of Arab governments.

"It must be a monitor of Arab executive institutions, but if it is just a union of parliaments then it's not going to be important," he told reporters.

The Arab League hopes the current interim assembly will be replaced after five years by a permanent elected organisation in the style of the European Parliament, to be based in the Syrian capital, Damascus.

It came out of proposals adopted at the Arab League summit held at Algiers in March aimed at modernising the 60-year-old institution and improving its lacklustre image.

Other recommendations by the League, such as the establishment of a regional security council and court of justice, have not been endorsed by heads of state.

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