On Sunday, Egyptian lawmakers submitted constitutional amendments that would allow President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to remain in power for another 16 years. The amendments would also expand his presidential capacity, giving him autonomy over a number of national affairs like appointing members of the judiciary.
The proposed amendments were submitted to the speaker of parliament Ali Abdelaal on Sunday.
As reported by Reuters, the submitted 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 Sisi to stay in power until 2034. “After the expiry of his current term, the President of the Republic may run again in accordance to the amended article 140,” the clause states.
News of the submitted amendments did not come as a surprise. These past months, there have been speculations that Sisi’s supporters were seeking ways to extend his stay in power. According to them, the president needs more time to finish the projects he has started. “He is doing a lot of projects and people are fighting him from all sides,” said Ayman Abdel Hakim, a lawyer who filed a petition along with 300 Sisi supporters in December demanding that two-term presidential limit is debated and amended.
Sisi supporters also pushed their agenda for an extended presidential tenure with the argument that there is no one befitting to assume the role of the president if Sisi leaves. “People have been expecting a constitutional amendment on extending presidential terms, because every time the debate turns to the end of (Sisi’s) second term, the question is: who is the alternative? That causes panic,” said Mohammed Fouad, MP of Egypt’s historical party, Al Wafd.
Two years ago, Sisi had told America’s CNBC that he would not seek a third term in office. But apparently, the 64-year old authoritarian seems to have changed his stance. The proposed amendments would have to be approved by two-thirds of parliament, then validated by popular referendum. Going by how hard the government has been working to silence oppositions, these amendments will be met with little or no resistance.
According to the state news agency, MENA, other proposed amendments include a quota guaranteeing women at least 25 percent of parliament seats, the appointment of one or more deputy for the president, adequate representation for youth, farmers, and the country’s Christian minority, and lastly, restoring the upper chamber of parliament, the former Shura Council.
The news of the amendments was met with criticism on social media using a trending hashtag “No to changing the constitution.” Egyptians are not happy about the extension of Sisi’s tenure and the expansion of his judicial power as this would mean more room for increased human rights violations and civil repression.