Egypt’s parliament passes constitutional changes, extends president’s term limit

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Egypt’s parliament passed on Tuesday proposed amendments to the 2014 constitution, including an amendment that possibly extends President’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi time in office until 2030.

According to Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal a vast majority of MPs has agreed on the newly introduced amendments. A number of 531 members voted in favor of the new amendments while 22 members rejected and only one member abstained from voting out of a total of 554 eligible members.

The 54-page-long amendments were all passed in a general session late on Tuesday.

Three sessions were held in parliament on Tuesday to discuss and vote on the amendments. The first session saw a general debate on the amendments, the second involved a discussion on the articles, and the vote was held during the third session.

Among the most important of the amended articles are those increasing the presidential term from four to six years, allocating 25 percent of parliamentary seats to female candidates, introducing the upper chamber of the parliament (the Senate) and reinstating the post of vice president.

The amendments will be put to a public referendum. Egyptians abroad will go to the polls on 20 and 21 April, while some 55 million eligible voters within the country will be able to vote on 22, 23 and 24 April.

If approved the amendments will take effect immediately.

President of the republic

Article 140: The president of the republic shall be elected for six (instead of four) years, beginning on the day after the end of his predecessor’s term, and he/she cannot remain in office for more than two consecutive terms.

Transitional Article 240: The term of the current sitting president (Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi) is to end after six years following the date of his election as president in 2018, and he can be re-elected for another six-year term.

Vice president

Article 150:The president of the republic may appoint one or more deputies and shall determine their duties. The president may delegate his deputies to perform some of his duties and he has the authority to relieve them from their posts and accept their resignation.

The vice president of the republic shall take the oath as stipulated in Article 144 of the constitution before the president of the republic.

The provisions of the constitution shall apply to the vice president of the republic in articles 141, 145 and 173.

Article 160 (first paragraph): If a temporary obstacle makes the elected president unable to perform his duties, he will be replaced by a vice president or prime minister if there is no vice president.

(last paragraph): If a caretaker president takes office, he shall not be entitled to amend the constitution, dissolve the House of Representatives or Senate, or dismiss the government. The caretaker president will also not be allowed to run for president.

House of Representatives

Article 102 (first paragraph): The change aims to reduce the number of elected MPs in the House of Representatives (Egypt’s lower house of parliament) from 596 to 450 MPs, with at least 25 percent of the seats (112 seats) to be reserved for women representatives.

Judiciary

Article 185: Each individual judicial authority shall take charge of running its own affairs, and it will be consulted on laws regulating its own business. The president of the republic shall appoint the heads of judicial authorities from among five who will be nominated by its higher councils, and their term of office will be four years.

A higher council for judicial authorities will be created and the president of the republic will be its head. The council will take charge of discussing the affairs of judicial authorities. In case of the president’s absence, a head of a judicial authority will be delegated by the president to consider the conditions of appointing members of judicial authorities and their promotion, and he will be consulted on laws regulating their business.

Judicial authorities will also have their own independent budget. A law to be issued to regulate the roles of the Higher Council for Judicial Authorities and its decisions are to be taken by consensus of its members.

Armed Forces

Article 200: The Armed Forces is the people’s arm, and its job is to protect the country, safeguard its security and the integrity of its land, preserve the constitution and democracy, maintain the basic pillars of the state and its civilian nature, and uphold the gains of the people, and the rights and freedoms of individuals. The state will be exclusively authorised to create such forces, and any other individuals, authorities, or groups will be banned from forming military or semi-military organisations and militias.

Article 204 (second paragraph): Civilians can face trial before military courts only in cases of assaulting military establishments, military camps, military zones and borders, military equipment, vehicles, weapons, ammunition, documents, secrets, funds, or army factories. Trials can also cover crimes related to recruitment and drafting, and assaulting officers and personnel affiliated with the Armed Forces while they are performing their duties.

The Senate

Article (248):The Senate has the authority to study and propose what it deems to be the basis of democracy, the promotion of social peace, the basic elements of society and its supreme values, rights, freedoms and public duties, and the deepening and expansion of the democratic system.

Article (249): The opinion of the Senate shall be taken for the following:
– Proposals for the amendment of one or more articles of the constitution.
– Drafting general plans for social and economic development.
– Treaties of reconciliation and alliance and all treaties relating to the rights of sovereignty.
– Drafting laws supplementing the constitution referred to the Senate by the president of the republic or the House of Representatives.
– Matters referred to the Senate by the president regarding the general policy of the state or its policy in Arab or foreign affairs.

Article (250): The Senate shall be elected within the 60 days preceding the expiry of its term.

The Senate shall comprise 180 members at least, and its term will be five years. Two thirds of the Senate’s members shall be elected in a secret ballot, and a third will be appointed by the president.

Article (251): A Senate member should be Egyptian, not less than 35 years old, have a university degree and legally allowed to exercise his/her civilian and political rights.

The law shall specify the conditions of the other candidates, the electoral system, and the division of the constituencies to take into consideration the equitable representation of the population and the governorates. The individual or existing electoral system may be introduced or combined in any proportion between them.

Article (252): A Senate member cannot be a member of the House of Representatives at the same time.

Article (253): The prime minister, his deputies, ministers and other members of the government shall not be held accountable to the Senate.

Source: Ahram online

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