Egypt’s MPs still divided over President Sisi’s term in office

Gamal Essam El-Din , Sunday 14 Apr 2019

The final draft of Egypt’s constitutional amendments will be finalised today, including Article 140 regulating presidential terms

Egypt's Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal meeting with the committee tasked to amed the constitution in Cairo on Sunday April 14, 2019 (Photo: Khaled Mashaal)

The Egyptian parliament’s legislative and constitutional affairs committee will vote today on the final draft of the proposed amendments to Egypt’s 2014 constitution.

Parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal said the committee will hold a meeting Sunday afternoon to review the final constitutional amendments and take a vote on them.

A seven-member sub-committee led by Abdel-Aal and entrusted with putting the final draft of the amendments held a meeting on Sunday morning and prepared a report which will be voted on by MPs affiliated with the constitutional and legislative affairs committee this afternoon.

Abdel-Aal indicated that if they vote yes, a report containing the final draft of the amendments will be discussed in parliament’s plenary sessions on Tuesday (16 April) and Wednesday (17 April).

“So the final discussion and vote on the amendments will be completed by parliament this week,” said Abdel-Aal, adding that “in line with Article 226, which states that once proposed constitutional amendments are approved by parliament, the president of the republic should be notified of parliament’s approval to take the necessary constitutional measure of putting the constitutional amendments to a vote in a public referendum.” According to article 226 the amendment shall be put to a public referendum within 30 days from the date the approval is issued.

Meanwhile, MPs are still divided over the amendment of Article 140, which regulates presidential terms.

Abdel-Hadi Al-Qasabi, the head of the parliamentary majority bloc Support Egypt, which proposed and submitted the amendments on 3 February, told reporters on Sunday that “there were a lot of division over Article 140, but in all cases we will reach an agreement when we meet to vote on the final drafts during the committee’s meeting on Sunday afternoon.”

Informed sources said that MPs have so far proposed three amendments to Article 140.

The first one, led by Al-Qasabi and the Support Egypt coalition, proposes that President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s current term in office, which ends on 2022, be extended by two years to 2024, and then be allowed another six-year term which will end on 2030.

This proposal also gets the approval of some opposition political parties such as Al-Tagammu party. Salah Hassaballah, the parliamentary spokesperson, said “this proposal goes with Egypt’s 2030 strategic development plan and I think this will get the approval of the majority of MPs.”

Another group of MPs, also affiliated with the Support Egypt coalition, say that when President El-Sisi’s current term ends as planned on 2022, he should be allowed to run for an additional two terms that will end on 2034.

A third group of MPs, mostly affiliated with the opposition leftist 25-30 group, propose that the presidential term should be increased from four to just five years. In this case, the current term of President El-Sisi would be increased by one year, or from 2022 to 2023, and then he would be allowed to run for another five years ending on 2028.

This group of MPs argues that the term of the president in office should be five years, just like parliament, which is elected every five years and in this way legislative and presidential elections would be held in one year.

The current term of Egypt’s parliament will end next year (2019/2020), and the new parliament, which will be elected next year, will sit until 2025, and in this year both parliamentary and presidential elections could be held.

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