Liberal MP Hamzawy proposes Egypt presidential elections in April

Dina Ezzat, Monday 30 Jan 2012

Liberal representative Amr Hamzawy talks to Ahram Online about his proposed bill that would bring presidential elections forward by two months, putting Parliament, and not the military council, in charge of the electoral process

Amr Hamzawy (Photo: Al-Ahram archives)

In the line with the constitutional constraints and in accordance with public demands, Member of Parliament (MP) Amr Hamzawy is proposing 1 May as the date for Egypt's next president to take power.

Less than 24 hours before an expected march from Tahrir Square to Parliament demanding quicker progress towards presidential elections in order to end the transitional phase and the rule of the Supreme Council for Armed Forces (SCAF), MP Amr Hamzawy presented the secretariat of Parliament with a draft bill to shorten the timeframe of the remainder of the transitional phase.

Speaking to Ahram Online in Parliament, Hamazawy said that his two-item draft bill proposes 1 March as the date for presidential candidates to officially register and for the first round of elections to be held on 15 April.

According to the draft bill, which will have to go through the constitutional and legislative committee for consideration and then for debate, if there is a second round between two of the candidates it should take place before the end of April so that the new president is officially in office on 1 May – eight weeks ahead of the 1 July that is stipulated in the current framework.

The Hamzawy bill also stipulates that the elections committee within Parliament should be the only body in charge of operating the presidential electoral process – a demand that indirectly eliminates any role for the SCAF.

Tuesday's planned march will demand that registration of presidential candidates start on 11 February – the day that Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down after 18 days of nationwide demonstrations which ended his three-decade rule – and that the elected president should assume office on 1 April.

This demand runs counter to the steps stipulated in the constitutional declaration issued by the SCAF in April, 2011, which demands the completion of the election and inauguration of the two houses of Parliament before the initiation of the presidential elections. The Upper House (Shura Council) is scheduled for inauguration at the end of February.

"This bill aims to meet the demand for advancing the presidential elections, but it does so while observing constitutional constraints," Hamzawy told Ahram Online. He added that the bill also allows Parliament to use its legislative prerogatives to reciprocate the demands of demonstrators.

The two Islamic parties that control the majority of Parliament – the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Nour, the political arm of the Salafists - have both supported the existing timeframe.

Hamzawy declined to offer a yes or no answer to questions on the speculations over a deal in the making between the SCAF and the Muslim Brotherhood to delay the presidential elections pending the agreement between the two sides on a candidate to their mutual liking.

"The only way out of speculations over secret deals and hidden agendas is to act in line with the legislative mandate, which allows for an open debate by the elected representatives of the people in line with the constitutional framework," Hamzawy stated.

Hamzawy said that he has consulted with representatives of both parties, as with other political forces in Parliament, before he drafted his bill but acknowledged that the matter requires much lobbying.

The MP was non-committal about the length of the debate over the draft bill or the volume of support it could solicit. He was, however, very committed about his determination to lobby support for this draft bill that he says serves the purpose of ending the transitional phase, with all the confusion that came along with its procrastination, and to allow a truly elected president to be in office before the drafting of the constitution is put into full gear, to spare the SCAF from presiding this phase.

"It is important that the transitional phase comes to an end, so that things start to fall into place; and it is also important that the draft of the constitution (which has to be put to a referendum) should not be rushed," Hamzawy said.

The draft bill that he presented on Monday afternoon allows for the two objectives to be met concurrently and, "it actually de-links the presidential elections and the drafting of the constitution."

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