News ID: 251655
Published: 0315 GMT April 19, 2019

Egypt to vote on constitutional amendments

Egypt to vote on constitutional amendments
AMR ABDALLAH DALSH/REUTERS
An Egyptian man walks in front of a school used as a polling station covered from outside by Egyptian flags, during the preparations for the upcoming referendum on constitutional amendments in Cairo, Egypt, on April 18, 2019.

Egypt holds a three-day referendum from Saturday on constitutional amendments that could allow President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to stay in office until 2030.

Parliament this week overwhelmingly approved the proposals, which would also bolster the role of the military and expand the president's power over judicial appointments, Reuters reported.

Supporters argue that Sisi has stabilized Egypt and needs more time to complete crucial economic reforms. Critics say they fear that the changes will further limit the space for dissent after a wide-ranging security crackdown.

An amendment to Article 140 of the Constitution extends the presidential term to six years from four. An outright bar on any president serving more than two terms will change to a bar on serving more than two consecutive terms.

An additional clause extends Sisi's current term to six years from four currently since his election victory in 2018, and allows him to run for a third term in 2024.

The amendments provide for the creation of a second parliamentary chamber known as the Council of Senators. It would have 180 members, two-thirds elected by the public and the rest appointed by the president.

Article 200 of the Constitution on the role of the military is expanded, giving the military a duty to protect "the Constitution and democracy and the fundamental make-up of the country and its civil nature, the gains of the people and the rights and freedoms of individuals".

The amendments also create the post of vice president, allowing the president to appoint one or more deputies. They task the president with choosing head judges and the public prosecutor from a pool of senior candidates pre-selected by the judiciary.

They further create a quota setting women's representation in Parliament at a minimum of 25 percent.

The amendments were initiated by the pro-government parliamentary bloc known as Support Egypt, and according to the Parliament's legislative committee report, 155 members submitted the initial proposal.

On Tuesday, 531 out of 596 members of Egypt's overwhelmingly pro-Sisi Parliament voted in favor of the changes.

Parliament Speaker Ali Abdelaal has said that the amendments were a parliamentary initiative and that Sisi may not even choose to run again.

"This suggestion came from the representatives of the people in gratitude for the historic role played by the president," the legislative committee report said.

 

   
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