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Thursday, 20 June 2019

Frequently asked questions‏ ‏about Egypt’s constitutional amendments

Wednesday 3 Apr 2019
Egyptian parliament
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What prompted the constitutional amendments?

The amendment of the constitution in any country serves to cope with the political, economic and social changes that may ‎occur in that country.

It is possible for the nation to exercise its right to amend some provisions of the ‎constitution through referendum, so as to put the people through the experiences of ‎thinking that is modern, developed and appropriate to the status of Egypt and the needs of its ‎people and their capacity and energies. These are the most important things necessitating the ‎constitutional amendments.‎

The amendment process aims to protect the right of the current generation to self-determination by having them participate in a ‎referendum to decide whether they approve these amendments, especially given that the current ‎constitution was put at a critical stage after the revolution of 30 July 2013. ‎

The idea of extending the presidential term to six years is not linked to any particular ‎person, but serves to provide the time necessary to complete national projects and ‎economic reforms, and for the citizens to begin to feel the results of these reforms on the ‎ground.

The extension also serves to complete the mission to eliminate terrorism in Sinai and to preserve for the ‎people the gains of security and stability, and to avoid entering into a new ‎spiral of chaos and start from scratch, if not worse.

The re-formation of the Shura Council as a second legislative chamber serves to facilitate ‎and expedite the completion of legislation required for practical life and to reduce the burden on ‎the House of Representatives by specifying the role of this council in drafting legislation. This council will include a number of legal experts ‎and specialists to contribute to the completion of such legislation.‎

The amendments also aim to increase the representation of women in the House of Representatives in recognition of ‎their role in political life and the competence they have demonstrated in fulfilling the tasks entrusted to ‎them.

Will there be international review of the referendum?‎

The international review of the referendum is already in place in order to show the ‎impartiality of the referendum process in all its stages before all local and foreign civil ‎society organisations as well as foreign election commissions.‎

The National Elections Commission issued Decree No. 23 of 2019 establishing a database to ‎register local, foreign and international civil society organisations and foreign commissioning ‎bodies. It also stated that all organisations that followed the 2018 ‎presidential elections should review the referendum process. This decision also allowed ‎any other organisation that did not participate in the review of the presidential elections to submit an application to the National Elections Commission to request its registration in the database to ‎follow up on the referendum.‎

Won’t the proposed constitutional amendments transform Egypt into military property?‎

The constitutional amendments are a genuine right of the House of Representatives elected ‎by the people as it is a democratic activity common to most countries. The proposed texts have no provisions that would make Egypt a military property. It supports stability and balance between ‎the authorities and supports the fair representation of women, Copts and people with special ‎needs in the House of Representatives and thus enable those groups to participate effectively ‎in political life.‎

What guarantees that a transparent dialogue about the amendments took place in ‎parliament?‎

The community dialogue was held to discuss the amendments and was composed of six sessions totalling 20 hours for the members of the ‎House of Representatives to listen to the stakeholders from the state and the community ‎regarding the constitutional amendments.

The basis of community dialogue is democracy; listening to all opinions in preparation for ‎the decision in order to cover all segments of society and its categories, and transparency; full ‎coverage by the media, the press and the editors of parliament. The dialogue also involves the participation of ‎various representatives of Egyptian society including Al-Azhar and the Church, judges, national councils and unions, economists, representatives of civil society, media members and ‎the press, political parties, academics, economic and financial entities and a number of public ‎figures.

What segments of society are benefiting from the constitutional amendments?

Women:
Solidifying the representation of women in parliament and having a constitutionally ‎reserved quota of no less than one quarter.

Workers and farmers:

Continuing to ensure adequate representation of both workers and farmers.

Youth, Copts, Egyptians abroad and people with disabilities:

Solidifying representation -- which was previously on a temporary basis -- of all segments of society due to the success of this experience ‎in increasing representation, which entrenches the principle of ‎civic equality.‎

Senate: 

Increase community representation, expand participation, and hear the most voices and ‎opinions.

What are the proposed amendments concerning the presidency? ‎

Keeping the presidential term limit at two terms while extending term lengths to six years instead of four, which is necessitated by the practical ‎reality, in terms of growth, evolution and the development of state institutions.‎

The creation of the position of one or more vice presidents to ‎assist the president in performing his duties, and to determine who would take the place of the president during absence in a way that serves the interest of the country and ‎its stability.‎

Civilian state

Not having military trials for civilians except in crimes of aggression ‎against the military and border areas.

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