Wednesday, 21 August, 2019

Egypt's lawmakers vote to extend president's term limits

Egyptian parliamentarians Egypt Parliament's Committee Approved President's Term Extension - Reports
Patty Aguilar | 18 April, 2019, 22:29

Egypt's parliament on Tuesday passed amendments to the constitution that could see President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi remain in power until 2030.

Sisi's current term will now expire in 2024 rather than 2022.

A former army chief, Sisi stormed to the presidency in 2014, a year after having led the military in toppling former President Mohamed Morsi.

Human rights groups and opposition parties say the government has intensified its crackdown on dissent with a wave of arrests ahead of the vote.

The president would also be given more influence over the judiciary.

As Sisi visited Washington for talks with President Donald Trump, it urged Congress, to withhold endorsement of the Egyptian president's bid to extend his rule.

MP Mohamed Abu- amed, who pushed for the constitutional amendments to keep Sisi in power, is adamant the changes are needed to allow him to complete political and economic reforms.

He added that keeping Sisi in power reflected "the will of the people".

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The internet monitor NetBlocks said Egyptian authorities had partly or fully blocked 34,000 websites in an attempt to restrict access to a campaign website that had reportedly collected 250,000 signatures against the amendments.

Article 140 of Egypt's current constitution, which was approved in a referendum in 2014, now says that the president serves four-year terms and may only be re-elected once.

Lawmakers approved with a two-thirds majority amending article 140 of the 2014 constitution to extend the presidential term to six years instead of four.

The changes would extend Sisi's current term to six years from four and then allow him to run again for another six-year period. It is in charge of major infrastructure projects, and generals occupy key positions throughout the government.

Abdel-Al said a civilian state does not mean a secular, religious or military state.

The amendment to article 234 would meanwhile enshrine the role of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces in approving the minister of defence's appointment. "Why are you selling arms to it?" he said, addressing the worldwide community. They declare the military the "guardian and protector" of the Egyptian state, democracy and the constitution, while also granting military courts wider jurisdiction in trying civilians. The rest would be directly elected.

The committee approved that the new parliament, which will be elected at the end of 2020, be composed of 450, and that women will be allocated 25 percent of seats (112) in this parliament.

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