Head of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Lasheen Ibrahim, speaks during a news conference in Cairo, Egypt April 2, 2018 (Photo: Reuters)
The National Electoral Commission (NEC) announced on Monday that incumbent President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi has won a second term with 97 per cent of the vote.
The declaration of Al-Sisi’s landslide victory begs two immediate questions: when will the president be sworn in for his second term, and will his re-election be followed by a change of government?
Parliamentary Spokesperson Salah Hassaballah told reporters he expects Al-Sisi to take his new oath of office before parliament in early June.
“Given Egypt’s 2014 presidential election was officially announced on 3 June the current term of the incumbent president officially expires on 2 June 2018. We can therefore expect President Al-Sisi to be sworn in on that date, or immediately before,” notes Salah Fawzi, a professor of constitutional law at Mansoura University and member of the government’s Legislative Reform Committee.
“There will be coordination between the elected president and parliament on the exact day.”
Mustafa Bakri, MP and editor-in-chief of the weekly Al-Osbou, believes the ceremony could be earlier given that 2 June falls in Ramadan. He told Al-Ahram Weekly it was possible Al-Sisi will be sworn in ahead of the Holy Month.
NEC Spokesperson Mahmoud Al-Sherif announced during the NEC’s Monday press conference that any appeals against the results of the election must be lodged with the Supreme Administrative Court within 48 hours. “In the event of no appeals the result will be considered final,” said Al-Sherif. “Should appeals be filed a final ruling will be issued within 10 days, or on 14 April at the latest.”
Article 144 of the constitution states the elected president must be sworn in before parliament. In 2014, when no parliament was sitting, Al-Sisi was sworn before the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC).
The end of a presidential term brings several processes with it. Under Article 25 of the Local Administration Law (Law 43/1979) governors must submit their resignations, though Fawzi explains there is no constitutional or legislative article that imposes the same stipulation on the government.
Bakri told the Weekly he expects not only a change of governors but a major cabinet reshuffle and the appointment of new media sector heads.
“There is widespread feeling that the government of Prime Minister Sherif Ismail has lost its shine. Ismail himself has undergone surgery this year and may well be too frail for the job.”
“What we want,” says Bakri, “is a new, younger face who can energise the government.”
Bakri also expects that a new political party to be created during Al-Sisi’s second term.
“The last four years have made clear the president’s need for a political party to defend his policies and respond to his critics.”
Several MPs have told the Weekly the government is likely to tender its resignation following President Al-Sisi’s swearing in ceremony.
Alaa Abed, head of parliament’s Human Rights Committee, maintains “Egypt is in desperate need of a new government.”
“We need fighters not cabinet ministers and provincial governors with trembling hands,” Abed said. “Ismail’s government contains too many ministers who have proved a disappointment. They must be replaced by people who can deliver reforms and improved services.”
"There needs to be a sweeping cabinet reshuffle with more than half the cabinet replaced,” says Ahmed Ismail, a member of parliament’s Defence and National Security Committee.
Mohamed Abdallah Zein, deputy chairman of the Transport Committee, agrees. “The current government did everything it could in the first presidential term and now needs to be changed,” he says.
Beheira MP Ashraf Rehim argues “the government of Sherif Ismail shouldered the burden of implementing the IMF’s package of economic reforms but now we need a new cabinet that will focus on improving the lot of citizens who cannot afford the costs of another round of reform.”
*This story was first published in Al-Ahram Weekly