Egypt parliament to take final vote on constitutional amendments on 14 April

Gamal Essam El-Din , Wednesday 27 Mar 2019

Parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal told MPs on Wednesday that they should make sure to attend the 'historic meeting' on 14 April

Egyptian Parliament (Reuters)
Egyptian Parliament (Reuters)

Following a vote on Egypt's 2017/2018 budget balance sheet on Tuesday evening, parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal decided to adjourn the House's plenary sessions till 14 April, telling MPs that "I think that all of you will be keen to attend this historic session."

"The plenary session on 14 April will be a very important one, and I think that your complete attendance will be essential," said Abdel-Aal.

Informed sources told Ahram Online that the final vote on the proposed amendments to Egypt's 2014 constitution will be taken on the plenary session of 14 April.

A two-thirds majority of MPs should be available for the vote to be considered legal and constitutional. Upon hearing their name, each MP should say 'yes' or 'no' to the amendments.

Abdel-Moneim El-Oleimi, an independent MP representing the Nile Delta city of Tanta and a member of parliament's legislative and constitutional affairs committee, told Ahram Online that "the vote is highly expected to be on 14 April, as this date will be the deadline for taking the vote."

"Parliament took a provisional vote on 14 February, and, in line with the constitution and internal-bylaws, a final vote on the report of the final draft of the constitutional amendments should be held within no more than two months," said El-Oleimi.

El-Oleimi indicated that this week parliament will take the penultimate step on the proposed constitutional amendments.

"The legislative and constitutional affairs committee dedicated one month to receiving written comments on the proposed amendments, and on 28 March, it will finish a two-week national debate on the amendments," said El-Oleimi, adding that "members of the committee will meet over the next two weeks to put the final draft of the amendments." 

Parliament said in a statement on 24 March that the amendments to Egypt's 2014 constitution will be voted on by MPs by the Middle of April.

"If passed, the National Committee for Elections will be notified to invite citizens to vote on the amendments in a public referendum," said Abdel-Aal.

Abdel-Aal told MPs representing Alexandria and the Nile Delta governorates on Wednesday that the amendments aim to go in line with the changing conditions in Egypt and the region.

"I am keen to have the discussion and vote on the amendments proceed in a correct and constitutional way," said Abdel-Aal, adding that "to those who say that instead of making amendments we have to draft a completely new constitution, I say that writing a new constitution is not the authority of this parliament."

"We can only make amendments in line with Article 226, but writing a new constitution is the task of a constituent assembly comprising representatives from all sectors of society," said Abdel-Aal.

Abdel-Aal explained that the amendments do not affect rights and freedoms or the independence of the judiciary, and maintain the role of the House of the Representatives.

He also explained that the amendments seek to increase the presidential term to six years because a four-year term is too short for a country situated in a very volatile region.

The amendments also aim to create a second house, reinstate the post of vice president, and give a greater quota of seats (25 percent) to women in parliament.

Parliament's legislative and constitutional affairs committee will hold a hearing session with representatives of political parties (120 participants) on Wednesday. On Thursday, the committee will conclude by holding two hearing sessions with representatives of business and economic sectors and NGOs.

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