Published: Thu, April 18, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Egypt MPs back constitution changes to extend Sisi rule: state media

Egypt MPs back constitution changes to extend Sisi rule: state media

Egypt's parliament on Tuesday approved amendments to the constitution that could keep President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in power until 2030, though they still have to be endorsed in a referendum to take effect.

The 596-member assembly, packed with al-Sisi's supporters, overwhelmingly gave its initial approval for the proposals in February and sent it to the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee to finalize the wording before the final vote on Tuesday.

"It is an unrealistic period.to achieve complete and sustainable development.", a draft of the report seen by Reuters said regarding article 140, which would extend the presidential term to six years.

But they include a special article to extend el-Sissi's current, second term to six years and allow him to run for another six-year term in 2024.

Critics of the changes say they are a return to the 29-year rule of Hosni Mubarak, who was toppled in 2011.

The amendments are expected to be put to a public referendum later this month.

On Monday NetBlocks, an internet monitoring group, said Egypt had blocked access to an estimated 34,000 internet domains in an apparent attempt to eliminate an online campaign opposing the proposed amendments.

Another critic, Michele Dunne, director and senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Middle East Program, said the amendments were meant to remove the possibility of political competition for Sisi.

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But the constitution could face more revisions after parliamentary speaker Ali Abdel Aal suggested that Egypt rewrite it again within the next 10 years.

"He can be re-elected for another (six-year) term".

The referendum to approve the changes will take place April 22-24 and 55 million Egyptians are called to vote, al-Ahram said.

They declare the military the "guardian and protector" of the Egyptian state, democracy and the constitution, while also granting military courts wider jurisdiction in trying civilians.

As Sisi visited Washington for talks with President Donald Trump, it urged Congress, to withhold endorsement of the Egyptian president's bid to extend his rule.

An amendment has also been approved to give 25% of parliamentary seats to women and another amendment has been approved to reintroduce the role of vice president.

Sisi led the army's overthrow of elected president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 following mass protests against the Islamist leader's rule.

The amendments also allow the president to appoint top judges and bypass judiciary oversight in vetting draft legislation.

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