Egypt's parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal (Photo: Al Ahram)
Egypt's House Speaker Abdel-Aal has said that a report on newly-proposed constitutional amendments will be made available to MPs one week before the amendments are put to a vote in parliament in principle.
"This goes in line with the fourth paragraph of Article 134 of parliament's internal bylaws," said Abdel-Aal, adding that the report will be prepared by a sub-committee affiliated with parliament's steering bureau.
Abdel-Aal's announcement came at the end of a two-hour meeting held by parliament's general committee on Tuesday morning.
"In this meeting, the amendments were put to a vote in line with Article 142 of parliament's internal bylaws and they gained the approval of more than two-thirds of the general committee's members," said Abdel-Aal.
Parliament's general committee is headed by Speaker Abdel-Aal and comprises his two deputies, the chairpersons of 25 committees, and representatives of political parties and independents.
"The approval came after members of the committee agreed that the motion submitted in this respect goes in line with Article 226 of the constitution and Article 132 of parliament's internal bylaws," said Abdel-Aal, adding that "the amendments received extensive discussions in the two meetings held by the committee on Sunday and Tuesday."
Abdel-Aal explained that there was consensus among parliament's general committee's members that the amendments cover seven sections.
"In the area of boosting parliamentary representation and reinforcing political life, the amendments aim to increase the number of seats reserved for women in parliament, and support the representation of farmers and workers, youth, Copts, Egyptians abroad, and the physically challenged in parliament on a regular – rather than temporary – basis," Abdel-Aal said.
As for the area of reforming government and striking a balance between the presidential and parliamentary systems, Abdel-Aal said that the amendments aim to appoint one or two vice-presidents, as well as extend the presidential term to six instead of four years and taking the transitional rules in this respect into account.
Third, said Abdel-Aal, the amendments aim to reform the judicial power in terms of unifying the instruments of naming the heads of judicial authorities, the prosecutor-general and head of the Supreme Constitutional Court.
As for the Armed Forces, Abdel-Aal said the amendments aim to reformulate and deepen the role of the military, make the appointment of the minister of defence possible upon the approval of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), and put vital establishments and public utilities under legal protection.
In the area of reforming the electoral system, Abdel-Aal said that the amendments aim to eliminate the article on "equal representation of voters" upon the grounds that it caused a lot of disagreements when it came to implementation on the ground and in line with the ruling issued by the Supreme Constitutional Court in this respect.
Abdel-Aal said that the amendments also aim to introduce new articles that seek to recreate a second upper house of parliament by the name of the "Senate."
"They also state that articles related to regulating the National Press Organisation and the National Media Organisation be revoked," Abdel-Aal added.
A report on the amendments will be submitted for a vote in parliament in principle, likely in two weeks.
If approved in principle, the report will be referred to parliament's Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee to be discussed in detail in hearing sessions within two months, at the end of which a report will be prepared to be discussed and voted in a plenary session.
If approved by a two-thirds majority of MPs, the final list of amendments will be referred to the president of the republic to invite citizens to vote on them in a public referendum.