Committee drafts constitutional amendments

Ahram Online, Thursday 24 Feb 2011

The proposed amendments to Egypt's Constitution open up presidential elections, limit the leader to just two terms and make a referendum necessary for any extension to the state of emergency


The Constitutional Reform Committee has finalized its recommended amendments to the constitution and will present them to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces within hours.

The committee has amended eight articles from the 1971 constitution, including reducing the presidential term from six to four years. The committee, headed by Tarek El-Bishry, former first deputy of the Council of State, was appointed by Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the Armed Forces, to amend the Constitution before the presidential elections.

The amendments cover Article 76 which stipulates that presidential candidates should obtain the signatures of at least 250 elected members. These must comprise a minimum of 65 from Parliament, 25 members of the Upper House and 10 members of each of the 14 governorate elected councils.

The committee has also changed the criteria to run for the presidency. According to the amended article, an independent candidate may run as long as they obtain 30,000 signatures from 12 governorates in Egypt or 150 signatures from members of Parliament or the Upper House. The amendments also stipulate that any political party represented in Parliament can field candidates in the presidential elections.

Article 77:

The presidential term is six years beginning from the day the new president is announced and the president may be reelected for other terms.

Amendment: The presidential term is four years beginning from the day the new president is announced and the president can be elected for only one more term.

Article 88:

The law stipulates the conditions covering candidates for Parliament, voting and referendums. The elections take place over one day only and an independent high committee oversees the elections.

Amendment: An independent committee made up of court judges supervises the elections from the day the list of candidates is announced to the final results

Article 93:

Parliament has the right to determine the legitimacy of its members and the Court of Cassation can investigate the appeals referred to it by the head of Parliament, which has to be referred to the court within 15 days and investigations finalized within 90 days. The results must be presented before Parliament which has the right to determine if the appeal is legitimate or not within 60 days.

Membership of a deputy (MP) cannot be nullified without the agreement of one third of Parliament’s members.

Amendment: Parliament no longer has the right to determine whether membership of one of its deputies is valid or not and only the Court of Cassation has the right to do so. Implementation of the court's ruling will be mandatory.

Article 148:

The president has the power to announce a state of emergency. This announcement must be presented to Parliament within 15 days for it vote on its validity. The state of emergency can only be for a specific period and cannot be extended without the consent of Parliament.

Amendment: The state of emergency will be for six months only. The president will be asked to announce a state of emergency only after Parliament has approved the decision. The period can only be extended after a national referendum is held.

Article 151:

The president of the country has the power to conclude treaties and then inform Parliament. Once the president concludes a treaty, it gains the power of law.

Amendment: No treaties can be concluded unless voted on by Parliament and it has the force of law once ratified.

Article 189:

The president and head of parliament can ask for amendments of articles in the Constitution provided they stipulate which articles need to be amended and why. If the request of amendment emerged from Parliament, it needs to have the support of at least one third of its members. Parliament then discusses the amendments and if the request is rejected, a one year period must pass before a second request is presented.

If Parliament votes to amend the given article, it is discussed in Parliament two months after being approved. If one third of Parliament agrees, then the changes are presented to the public for their approval.

Amendment: The right to propose amendments to the Constitution is also with the People. (Details dealing with number and means to be covered by law).

Article 190:

The presidential term ends six years from the day the current president is officially announced as the country’s leader.

Amendment: The presidential term ends four years from the day the current president is officially announced as the country’s leader.

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