Egypt MPs table law amendment to extend Sisi rule

CAIRO (AFP) – Egyptian lawmakers on Sunday tabled proposed constitutional changes that would allow President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to extend his rule beyond 2022, legislators said.

The Bill submitted to Speaker Ali Abdel Aal calls for several amendments to the constitution, including on the duration of presidential mandates currently limited to two four-year terms.

The lawmakers who put forward the amendments hope to extend the length of mandates to two six-year terms, which they say would allow Sisi to run for the presidency two more times after his second term expires in 2022.

That could see the former military chief ruling over Egypt until 2034.

The Parliament’s website Said speaker Abdel Aal had received a “request from a fifth of the elected representatives (120 deputies out of the total 596) to amend certain articles of the constitution”.

That number fulfils the quorum required for such a request.

A statement published later on the Parliament’s website outlined seven amendments that it said would address “severe deficiencies in determining the presidency term”.

Terms would become six years instead of four years, since the current term length “isn’t quite reasonable given the reality and the country’s and region’s circumstances”, it said.

A handout picture released by the Egyptian presidency on February 2 shows President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (top C) meet with members of his Cabinet. – AFP

The revisions were aimed at supporting the parliamentary representation of women, youths, Christians, people with special needs and Egyptians in the diaspora, it added.

They would include “the establishment of a second chamber of Parliament… and the creation of the post of Vice President to assist the President in his duties,” said the statement.

The Bill was submitted by the majority pro-government Support Egypt coalition along with some independents, said Musatafa Bakri, one of the lawmakers who favours the change.

Jean Talaat, another Sisi backer, said “the amendments concern fewer than 10 articles of the constitution, including on the duration of the presidential term for its extension to six years”.

The establishment of a Lower House would see a return to a bicameral Parliamentary system. That chamber was removed in the 2012 constitution, a year after the uprising that toppled long-time president Hosni Mubarak.

Another amendment would see the reinstatement of an Information Ministry, a portfolio that was abolished in 2014.

Sisi was elected for the first time in 2014, after ousting his predecessor Mohamed Morsi. The former army head was re-elected in 2018 with an official 97 per cent of the vote.

The vast majority of the current Parliament supports the Sisi government, with only around 10 lawmakers making up the opposition.