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Monday, 17 February 2020

Egypt's opposition urges Sisi to prioritise their proposed election reforms

Egypt's opposition parties said today that President El-Sisi should give high priority to their proposed amendments to election laws

Gamal Essam El-Din , Tuesday 19 May 2015
Egyptian parliament
Egyptian parliament (Photo: Reuters)
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In a statement to reporters, Egypt's political parties announced on Tuesday that President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi had officially received a copy of their proposed unified amendments for three laws necessary to pave the way for the country's long-delayed parliamentary elections.

The three laws regulate the performance of the House of Representatives, the Division of Electoral Constituencies, and the Exercise of Political Rights, according to Anwar Al-Sadat, chairman of the liberal Reform and Development Party.

"After he officially received them Monday, President El-Sisi is now required, as soon as possible, to refer these unified amendments to the State Council's department of legislation and fatwas and to a legislative committee in charge of reforming laws to revise them," said Sadat.

The amendments’ quick referral to the State Council and to the committee would be considered a positive signal on El-Sisi’s part, said Sadat.

"This step would not only satisfy political parties, but would also satisfy all Egyptians who want a powerful parliament," he said.

Sadat, however, warned that El-Sisi might refer the amendments to a government-appointed committee, in charge of changing the election laws to be in line with the constitution, after rulings issued by the Supreme Constitutional Court last March.

"We do not trust this committee,” he said. “We only trust the State Council and the Legislative Reform Committee, which is different from the committee that drafted the election laws."

The opposition referred the proposed legislative amendments to El-Sisi on Monday, as the result of an initiative aimed at unifying its positions on election laws and other national political issues in the coming period.

"Instead of looking fragmented and divided, the initiative aims to show the Egyptian opposition as a single and unified political force," said Sadat.

Sadat also argued that "the unified amendments should widen the scope of options before El-Sisi on election matters."

"He should decide what is the best option for the country, and give it priority," Sadat said. "The opposition's unified amendments of election laws represent the best priority because they arein line with the constitution and aim to create a balanced and powerful parliament."

In a separate statement, Mohamed Abu El-Ghar, chairman of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, said that he had high hopes that El-Sisi would deal with the opposition's proposed amendments to election laws with the required speed and seriousness.

"The president should not confine himself to the government committee's amendments to these laws, but he and the cabinet should give considerable priority to the opposition's legislative initiatives as well," said Abul El-Ghar.

Sadat and Abu El-Ghar stressed that if the opposition's amendments were rejected, they would not necessarily move to boycott the polls.

"Participation in the polls is a national duty that is above all considerations," Abu El-Ghar said.

Egypt's parliamentary elections were scheduled to be held last month, but they were postponed after two election laws were ruled unconstitutional.

The opposition's proposed amendments aim to amend the constituencies’ law to strike a balance between independents and party candidates, achieve equality among all candidates in terms of spending on election campaigns, and ensure the coming parliament stays immune to any constitutional challenges.

A press conference on the details of the opposition's suggested amendments to election laws is expected soon.

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