Key constitutional amendments announced, Egypt

Ahram Online, Sunday 27 Feb 2011

The Constitutional Reform Committee announced yesterday “temporary” constitutional amendments, among them: wider criteria for president, term limitation, rights to declare state of emergency, VP appointment

Tarek El-Beshry

The Constitutional Reform Committee has announced the constitutional amendments that are set to pave the way for a more democratic Egypt.

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 presidential elections. A meeting was held yesterday between members of the committee, Tantawi and his deputy, Sami Annan.

The meeting was followed by a press conference in which Bishri stated that the amendments focused on reducing the requirements for candidates to run for president. The changes widened the field include three basic points:

The first that a presidential candidate must gain the support of at least 30 members of parliament.

The second stipulates that a candidate must get support from 30,000 citizens across 15 governorates, with at least 1 thousand citizens from each governorate.

The third is that a political party with at least one elected member in the Upper House or Shura Council can field a presidential candidate.

El Bishry added that these changes are temporary until a new constitution is tailored by the new government. Citizens will only be able to vote using their national ID.

Specifically, the following articles have been changed by the committee.

Article 76:

Voting for the president is anonymous. The candidate must get support from at least 30 members of parliament or 30 thousand voting citizens across at least 15 governorates. Any political party that has at least one elected member in the parliament and Upper House has the right to field a presidential candidate. A judicial committee, called the “Presidential Candidates Committee,” will supervise the presidential elections. The committee will be headed by the High Constitutional Court. The members of the committee will include deputies from the Court of Appeals, the Constitutional Court, Court of Cassation and the state council deputy.

Article 77:

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 139:

The president must appoint a vice president within 60 days of him taking office. The president must specify to the vice president his exact duties. If the vice president is relieved from his post, he must be replaced.

Article 148:

The president has the right to declare a state of emergency and announce this to the parliament within seven days. The state of emergency must be defined for a specific period of time and is limited to no more than six months. A national referendum must be held to gain the public’s opinion on the state of emergency.

Article 189:

The president has the right to ask for a new constitution, with the caveat that he gains the approval of the State Council or half of the members of the Parliament and Upper House. A constituent assembly made up of 100 members, elected by members of the Upper House Council and Parliament oversee the creation of a new constitution within six months of creation of the assembly.

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