Egypt: Parliament votes to allow Sissi to extend his presidency

Egyptian parliament votes to allow Sissi to extend his presidency

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The Egyptian parliament, largely won by President Abdel Fattah Sissi, will vote on Tuesday a constitutional amendment that will offer the former Marshal, accused of serious human rights violations, the opportunity to remain in power until 2030 in the country. more populated Arab world.

Sissi, who came to power following the overthrow of Islamist Mohamed Morsi in 2013, was reelected with more than 97 percent last year. But to date, the Constitution limits the number of terms to two, four years each.

Several amendments to the 2014 Constitution were proposed in February by a parliamentary bloc actively supporting the head of state.

Among the changes, the new section 140 would extend Mr. Sissi’s current second term of office from four to six years, bringing his term to 2024 from 2022.

The head of state could also present himself in 2024 to a third term of six years.

Mr. Sissi was first elected in 2014, a year after leading the overthrow by the army, led by a popular movement, of Mohamed Morsi, of whom he was the defense minister.

  • “Political and economic stability” –

His reelection in 2018 with over 97% took place in a ballot marked by the presence of a single rival, relegated to the rank of stooges, and a series of arrests of opponents.

Chancellor of stability and the fight against terrorism at Western chancelleries, Abdel Fattah Sissi, 64, is accused by NGOs of serious human rights violations: torture, enforced disappearances, record of executions, imprisonment of opponents, muzzling of the press…

But supporters of the head of state in Parliament maintain that the constitutional revision is indispensable to the political and economic stability of the country.

“The 2014 Constitution was drafted in difficult, exceptional circumstances,” Mohamed Abou Hamed, an ardent member of parliament who promoted the reform, told AFP.

According to him, Mr. Sissi “has taken important political, economic and security measures (and) must continue its reforms”.

With less than twenty MPs, the small parliamentary opposition alliance, the “25-30” bloc, called the Egyptians rejected the revision.

This must be submitted to a popular referendum if the amendments are adopted by a two-thirds majority of the parliament, composed of 596 deputies.

The banners calling the people to participate and vote for this reform have invaded the streets of Cairo in recent weeks but no date has been formalized for holding the popular consultation.

  • Against a current –

This vote in the Egyptian Parliament is against the current regional climate at the beginning of the year.

In neighboring Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, who has been in power for three decades, was overthrown on 11 April after a popular protest. In Algeria, the refusal of Abdelaziz Bouteflika‘s fifth term of office provoked unprecedented street protests and the resignation of the president on 2 April.

“After the fall of Bouteflika in Algeria and al-Bashir in Sudan (…) have not we learned the lesson?” Quipped Haitham El-Hariri, a young member of the opposition.

But this opposition to constitutional revision remains almost exclusively confined to social networks. The overwhelming majority of mass media, especially television, relay the speech of President Sissi’s supporters, demonizing critical voices, who usually live in exile.

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), the “constitutional reform bill … gives the army particularly abusive powers and further institutionalizes authoritarianism.”

In a statement last week, the NGO called on the US Congress not to give a green light to the crackdown in Egypt, while Sissi was visiting Washington, where he met his American ally Donald Trump.

Amnesty International has also called on Cairo’s allies, especially the United States, not to “remain silent” on the proposed reform.

“If adopted, these constitutional amendments would worsen the devastating human rights crisis” in Egypt, the NGO said last week.

The constitutional revision must also increase the control of the judiciary by the executive and institutionalize the political role of the army, pillar of the regime.

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