Egypt parliament votes to extend Sisi rule till 2030

Remigio Civitarese
Aprile 17, 2019

The Egyptian president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, moved a step closer to extending his rule after lawmakers approved sweeping constitutional amendments that could enable him to remain in power until 2030.

Meanwhile, Egypt has blocked more than 34,000 internet websites in an attempt to restrict the opposition Void campaign (referring to their view that the government's legitimacy is "void") that has been launched to rally Egyptians against the amendments, which activists and rights groups say would further enshrine military rule in the country.

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.

"Today we are concluding what we started in February", Speaker Ali Abdel-Al said at the beginning of the session.

"We are bigger than tailor-making the constitution for the benefit of a specific person".

The national referendum will likely take place before early May when the Muslim holy month of Ramadan starts.

Banners reading in Arabic 'Do what is right, ' 'Participation is a responsibility, ' to urge Egyptians to participate in an upcoming referendum for the constitutional amendments, hang in Tahrir Square in Cairo on April 8.

"Take part, say. "yes" for the constitutional amendments", says one banner near the pro-government Nation's Future Party. Most of the posters were apparently funded by pro-government parties, business people and lawmakers.

Moncef Suleiman, a representative from the Coptic Christian church in Egypt, declared that the church "supports the increase in the length of presidential terms to six years", while Grand Mufti Shawki Allam released a statement telling citizens that participating in the referendum is "a national and religious duty".

However, they introduce a new clause that would extending Mr El Sisi's present four-year term to six years and allow him to run for another six-year term in 2024.

Mr Abdel Aal says that the constitution should not be treated as scripture and that Egyptians have the right to amend it to keep pace with political and societal changes.

No reason was given for the change, apparently made by the committee that drafted the final version of the text.

Keeping Sisi in power, he added, reflected "the will of the people". Shariah law, or Islamic law, is based on Islamic principles, particularly those found in the Qur'an and Hadith.

A former military chief, Mr Sisi became President in 2014, a year after having led the military ouster of Egypt's first freely-elected president, the Islamist Mohamed Morsi. He was re-elected to another four-year term last year, after all potentially serious challengers were arrested or pressured to withdraw from the race.

Other constitutional amendments include a quota for women's representation of no less than 25 percent in parliament and forming a second parliamentary chamber.

The amendments also allow the president to appoint top judges and bypass judiciary oversight in vetting draft legislation.

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.

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