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Egypt's newly elected MPs vow to amend constitution

Many of Egypt's newly elected MPs that said they wish to amend the ‎constitution so that the president's one term in office can be ‎increased to more than four years

Gamal Essam El-Din , Tuesday 3 Nov 2015
File Photo: Parliament (Photo: Al-Ahram)
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Views: 4321

Candidates who won seats in the first stage of Egypt's ‎parliamentary elections began on Tuesday to obtain their ‎parliamentary membership cards and some of them have already revealed their intent to make some crucial ammendments to the 2014 Constitution. ‎

Out of 213 candidates who won seats in the first stage, ‎held between 17 and 28 October in 14 governorates, as ‎many as 60 candidates arrived at the headquarters ‎of the Egyptian lower house parliament - or the House ‎of Representatives - to obtain their parliamentary ‎membership cards.‎

Parliament's secretary-general Khaled Al-Sadr, a former ‎army general, told reporters that each MP would be ‎obliged to fill a special membership form, giving a ‎detailed statement about his personal life and career.‎

Al-Sadr also disclosed that for the first time each MP would ‎be granted an Ipad to help with keeping in regular ‎contact with the house's secretariat-general.

"An MP will ‎use this Ipad to have updated information about the ‎House's schedule of plenary and committee meetings ‎and send requests to the house's secretariat-general," ‎said Al-Sadr.‎

Egypt's new House of Representatives will comprise of 596 ‎MPs, meaning that the total cost of Ipads would reach ‎around LE2.5 million.‎

The new MPs who were ‎keen to receive their parliamentary ‎membership cards said that their first priority in ‎parliament is to amend the constitution so that the ‎president's term in office can be increased to more than ‎four years.‎

According to article 140 of Egypt's new constitution, ‎passed in January 2014, the president cannot stay in ‎office for more than two terms, with each one four years ‎or a total of eight years.‎

MP Shadi Abul-Ela, a former police officer who was ‎elected an independent in the upper Egypt governorate ‎of Al-Minya, told reporters that a president's one term ‎in office must be increased to five rather than four ‎years. "A term of four years in office is suitable for a ‎country like the United States but is bad for a country ‎like Egypt that is in desperate need of stability and a ‎forceful president," said Abul-Ela.‎

Abul-Ela stressed that his request does not aim to ‎serve incumbent president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. "Please ‎look into the matter in objective terms," said Abul-Ela, ‎arguing "an elected president usually devotes the ‎first year of his first term in office to exploring the ‎country's problems, while he takes the fourth year to ‎preparing himself to run for another term in presidential ‎elections." "This means that only two years are left ‎for him to find solutions to the country's problems and ‎this is by no means enough or fair," said Abul-Ela.‎

Saeed Hassanein, another independent MP ‎representing the constituency of Kerdasa in the ‎governorate of Giza, also insisted "a term of four ‎years in office is by no means enough for any president ‎to deliver in political and economic terms."

"We know ‎that the real objective of article 140 of the constitution ‎is to prevent presidents from staying in office for life and ‎to ensure peaceful rotation of power," said Hassanein, ‎but adding that "the principle of only two terms in office ‎is good like it is the case in America, but each term ‎should be increased to five years and this will be ‎enough to secure the goals of article 140 – that is giving ‎the president enough time to deliver and ensuring that ‎he will stay for a fixed period of time."‎

Mokhtar Dessouki, another independent MP from the ‎upper Egypt governorate of Assuit, said "the ‎constitution has to be amended not only to increase the ‎president's years in office, but also to grant the ‎president greater powers." "The new constitution ‎stripped the president of many powers that he should ‎exercise so that he is able to deliver," said Dessouki, a former ‎member of former president Hosni Mubarak's ruling ‎National Democratic Party (NDP).‎

New MPs, however, differed over who should be Egypt's ‎new parliamentary speaker. Abul-Ela said he does not ‎favour former interim president Adly Mansour or former ‎foreign minister Amr Moussa to be the new speaker. "I rather favour ‎Justice Minister Ahmed Al-Zind to be the next speaker," ‎said Abul-Ela, adding "Al-Zind is an anti-Muslim ‎Brotherhood firebrand, not to mention that he is a forceful ‎figure who can impose his say on a parliament with 596 ‎seats and with new powers."‎

Hesham Magdi, another independent MP from the ‎upper Egypt governorate of Beni Suef, also told ‎reporters that he is in favor of amending article 140 to ‎increase the president's years in office. Magdi heaped ‎praise on president El-Sisi, insisting that he is ‎independent and will be keen to cooperate with him for the ‎public interest of all Egyptians. Magdi also believes that ‎the next parliamentary speaker should be an elected ‎MP. "This issue should be left to MPs to decide and to ‎elect the one who gains a majority of votes," said Magdi.‎

Most new MPs, however, criticised the performance of ‎the new government of Prime Minister Sherif Ismail. ‎Magdi described Ismail's government as very weak and ‎lacking in goals and objectives. "Our first role is to ‎review this government's statement of policy and see ‎whether it deserves confidence," said Magdi.‎

Most MPs opened fire on private television channels ‎and newspapers, accusing them of launching a hostile ‎campaign against the new parliament.‎

All MPs criticised Secretary-general Al-Sadr's decision ‎that each MP be allocated a certain seat with a certain ‎figure. They said MPs should be left free to sit where ‎they like in the main plenary meeting hall. ‎

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06-11-2015 07:25am
Back to square one !
In democracy if someone needs to "devote a year in office to explore the ‎country's problems" then he should be the least to deserve that office.
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04-11-2015 04:37am
They are all boot lickers and this is why only 23% Egyptians voted in elections
This is just mockery of democracy.
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abdul rahman ibrahim
10-11-2015 06:27pm
Egypt = North Korea.
09-11-2015 06:42pm
Opposition exists
There are more oppositions than the previous parliament consistenting of one fat Islamist bloc. This proves it's a better start than the previous one. You keep trying to put it down but the reality is that you and the mb are gone forever inshaallah.
07-11-2015 07:23pm
what a joke
I agree with you Farhan is indeed a mockery of democracy. It seems the newly "elected MP" don't understand the meaning of checks and balances or they are Mubarak cronies. The elections held after Mubarak was ousted and until Dr. Morsi was overthrown in a brutal military coup were the first free and fair elections in Egypt's history.
07-11-2015 02:48am
@Pharaoh, Yeh democracy where there is no space for opposition views
Democratic Republic of North Korea also has same kind of democracy.
06-11-2015 12:12am
This is not a mockery of democracy. This is a real young democracy. A developing democracy. Not a democracy based on buying votes such as the one done by the muslim brotherhood and salafis. Buying poor egyptian votes with oil and sugar. Unethical democracy is worst that an immature democracy.

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