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Egyptian Parliament Advances Motion to Amend Constitution

Egyptian Parliament Advances Motion to Amend Constitution

Tuesday, 5 February, 2019 - 18:45
Egyptian President Sisi addresses parliament. (AFP file photo)
Asharq Al-Awsat
An Egyptian parliamentary committee approved on Tuesday proposed constitutional amendments, including a draft on extending the term of the president.

The approval enjoyed the backing of over two-thirds of the members of the committee.

The approval is the first step needed to move forward with the constitutional changes, which are expected to be finally endorsed by parliament and then move to a referendum within a few months.

The proposed amendments were submitted on Sunday to the speaker of parliament who heads the committee that approved the changes.

Any changes need approval by two-thirds of parliament members, followed by a referendum.

The amendments include an extension of the presidential term to six years from four in article 140 of the constitution, and a transitional clause that would reset the clock, potentially allowing President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi to stay in power until 2034, according to a draft seen by Reuters.

"In order to maintain stability and to complete the development plans, there is a proposal to extend the presidential term to six years," said Abdel-Hadi el-Qassabi, head of the majority coalition in the parliament, which is sponsoring the move.

Abdel-Al said Sunday that the amendments "are rooted in the interest of both the state and the Egyptian people."

"Conditions on the ground, the situation in the region and the nation's circumstances have proven that (the current term limits) are unsuitable," he said.

The proposed changes also give the president new powers over appointing judges and the public prosecutor.

They also include amending article 200 of the constitution to add that the military's duty is to protect "the constitution and democracy and the fundamental makeup of the country and its civil nature."

They also include the introduction of the role of vice president, a revived senate and the enshrining of a quota of 25 percent for women in the House of Deputies. Also included is "adequate" representation for workers, farmers, youth and people with special needs in the legislature.

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