Calls for Amending Law on Presidential Terms Gain Legal, Media Attention in Egypt

Monday, 21 January, 2019 - 09:15
Cairo- Mohammed Nabil Helmi

The legal battle to ratify amendments allowing Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s stay in office for the duration of national political transition in Egypt continues to gain steam, despite the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters on Sunday postponing the revision of a lawsuit addressing the topic to February 24.

The lawsuit, filed by several people, calls on the House of Representatives’ speaker to request the parliament to convene with the aim of voting on a proposal to amend article 140 of the Constitution, Egypt’s official MENA news agency reported.

Egypt’s influential journalist and editor-in-chief of state-run Akhbar Al-Youm daily Yasser Rizk, stressed the need for a minimal “10-year transitional period for political reform in the country.” In an editorial published on Sunday, Rizk explains that Sisi’s time in office has launched a “process of political reform” and will not be seen to completion if another person is elected to post.

Rizk said that article 226, which prevents the amendment of provisions pertaining to the president’s re-election, undermines the power of the people which is enshrined in their right to vote in referendums.

According to article 226 of the Egyptian Constitution, the President of the Republic, or five members of the House of Representatives, may request the amendment of one or more articles of the constitution. Nevertheless, it later places several hurdles on modifying legislation concerning “presidential terms and national principles of freedom and equality.”

Last June, after a landslide victory, Sisi was sworn in for the second term, the last allowed for him to serve according to existing law. The article in question by the lawsuit stipulates that the president of the republic can only be re-elected for a one four-year term.

According to the proposal stated in the lawsuit, the president shall be re-elected for more similar terms as long as the people approve via a referendum.

The proposal said the current president’s available terms, estimated at eight years, are “too short, given the dangers, challenges and economic and security hazards that have been encountered by the state.”

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