Egypt's Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal (Photo: Khaled Mashaal)
Egypt parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal announced in a morning plenary session Sunday that he had received a written petition, signed by more than fifth of the total number of MPs, asking that “some articles of Egypt’s 2014 Constitution be amended.”
“In line with Article 141 of parliament’s internal by-laws, I decided to refer the petition to the general committee to discuss it in a meeting today after the end of the plenary session,” said Abdel-Aal, adding that, “In line with Article 133 of internal by-laws, the committee should prepare a report on the petition, recommending whether it be approved or rejected.”
Abdel-Aal indicated that “No government officials will attend the general committee’s meeting.” “As this petition was submitted by MPs only, so the government will not be allowed to have a say in this respect,” said Abdel-Aal, adding that, “Chairpersons of parliament’s 25 committees and representatives of political parties and forces will be the only ones entitled to attend the meeting.”
Abdel-Aal vowed that all political forces inside and outside parliament will be allowed to give their view on the proposed amendments. “All of these will be allowed to attend hearing sessions to be held by parliament’s legislative and constitutional affairs committee in this respect, to express their opinions on the proposed amendments,” said Abdel-Aal. He added that, “I promise that the proposed amendments will be passed only to serve the country’s national security interests and internal stability, and that these amendments observe all local and international constitutional principles and criterion.”
Abdel-Aal added: “I have a message to all Egyptians: please be assured that parliament will open the door of debate in this respect to all, and if the petition is to be become a matter of vote in parliament, it will be passed only after we make sure that it serves the interests of citizens and the nation as a whole.”
Abdel-Aal stressed that “parliament will make sure that all freedoms and forms of equality among citizens are firmly respected and that the amendments only observe the higher interests of Egyptian citizens and the state.”
Abdel-Aal’s move comes after Abdel-Hadi Al-Qasabi, leader of the “Support Egypt” parliamentary majority and head of the social solidarity committee, submitted the petition to Abdel-Aal Sunday morning. Al-Qasabi told reporters that the proposed amendments, signed by more than 120 MPs, or a fifth of the total, include increasing the presidential term from four to six years, creating a second chamber by the name of “the Senate”, and boosting representation of women, youth and Copts in parliamentary life.
“These amendments were drafted and submitted only after a long time of discussion and after Egypt has recovered stability and security, and so MPs now see that these amendments are necessary to reinforce stability and boost development plans,” said Al-Qasabi.
Al-Qasabi revealed that the amendments will first be referred to parliament’s general committee, and if approved in principle, would be sent to the legislative and constitutional affairs committee to discuss it in detail in hearing sessions.
“The committee will prepare a report at the end, recommending whether the petition on amendments should be passed, and if yes it will be sent to the president to invite Egyptians to vote on them in a public referendum,” said Al-Qasabi.