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Saturday, 19 October 2019

Egypt's Conservatives Party joins camp that rejects proposed constitutional amendments

The party said the proposed constitutional amendments reflect the opinion of a parliamentary majority, but not the majority of the Egyptian people

Gamal Essam El-Din , Wednesday 6 Feb 2019
Qortam
Egypt's Conservatives Party, led by oil tycoon and MP Akmal Qortam, has decided to reject the constitutional amendments proposed by 155 MPs to amend the constitution (File photo: Al-Ahram)
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In an official statement Wednesday, Egypt's Conservatives Party said it has decided to reject the constitutional amendments proposed by 155 MPs, or a fifth of parliament's deputies.

The party, led by oil tycoon and MP Akmal Qortam, said the proposed amendments reflect the wish of a handful of MPs, not popular will or a mass demand.

"The proposed amendments lack any credible philosophy, not to mention that they lead to undermining some of the main principles preserved by Egypt's 2014 Constitution, such as maintaining the independence of the judiciary, striking a balance among powers, and establishing a mixed parliamentary-presidential system," the statement said.

The statement added that the current constitution, which was approved in a public referendum by the majority of the Egyptian people in January 2014, "prohibits the majority in parliament from changing some of its articles in order to protect the rights of the minority."

For the above reasons, the statement said, the Conservatives Party has decided to reject in principle the proposed constitutional amendments. "The party's legislative and constitutional affairs committee will move later to explain in detail the party's reasons for rejecting the proposed amendments," the statement said.

The Conservatives Party has six MPs (one per cent of seats) in parliament. It refused to join the majority "Support Egypt" parliamentary alliance.

Four political parties with representatives in parliament have so far decided to reject the proposed constitutional amendments. These parties are the Conservatives Party (6 MPs), the Egyptian Socialist Democratic Party (4 MPs), the leftist Tagammu Party (2 MPs), and the Nasserist Party (one MP).

The leftist 25-30 parliamentary group has also rejected the amendments. In a press conference Monday, the 16-member bloc said the amendments represent an assault on the principle of rotation of power.

Abdel-Hadi Al-Qasabi, leader of the Support Egypt majority alliance, said "The amendments go in line with the last paragraph of Article 226 of the constitution which states that texts related to re-electing the president or the principles of freedom and equality can be amended only upon the offering of greater guarantees."

The amendments were approved by parliament's general committee in a meeting Tuesday morning. A report on the amendments is to be prepared by a subcommittee and is expected to be discussed in a plenary session 17 February.

Parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal said the amendments have seven main aims: to boost parliamentary representation of women, Copts, expatriates, the youth and the physically challenged; to create an upper house to help widen participation in political and parliamentary life; to increase the length of the presidential term from four to six years; to bring back the post of vice president; to reform the judicial authorities; and to change the way the minister of defence is appointed.

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