New Laws Call For El-Sisi’s Term To Be Extended Until 2030

Safa Hameed

The current Constitution of Egypt was written months prior to President El-Sisi of Egypt’s first presidency. However, now, as El-Sisi’s second term in office is coming to an end, new constitutional amendments aiming to increase his presidency to until 2030 are heading for referendum.

The current constitution was passed in 2014 after a coup d’etat lead by the then Defense Minister El-Sisi removed now jailed ex-President Morsi. The new amendments were passed by almost all 596 people of the Egyptian legislative body and are now heading for national referendum at the beginning of May. The idea to amend the constitution came around the end of February with the primary goal being to extend El-Sisi’s presidency which is bound to end by 2022 after serving two four year terms starting from 2014.

These new laws could extend El-Sisi’s rule to until 2030. The first unrevised draft in early February called for El-Sisi to be allowed two more six year terms after his current ones end; this leaves him in office until 2034. After the revision in April all presidential terms will be extended from four years to six years. There will also be a clause exclusive to El-Sisi which extends his current four year term to a six year, meaning his term will end in 2024 instead of 2022. It also allows El-Sisi to run for another six year term after the one in 2024 ends. This allocates to seventeen years served which would end his presidency in 2030.

Other changes affect the military, parliament, and judiciary branch. The changes to article 200 redefine the duties of the Egyptian military from protecting the country and providing security to doing that as well as “preserving the constitution and democracy, maintaining the basic pillars of the state and its civilian nature, and upholding the gains of the people, and the rights and freedoms of individuals”.

A new body that would oversee judiciary lead by the President would be proposed. The President would also have new powers that allow him to pick judges. The changes also decreases the powers that allow the judiciary branch to change legislation before it becomes final. Military courts also would also have more power over what they can prosecute including “attacks against military installations, factories, equipment, zones, borders and personnel, and now any building that is under the protection of the military”.

Lastly, a Senate would be reinstated. Of the 180 members, ⅓ would be appointed by El-Sisi while the rest would be elected. The current standing House of Representatives would have a seat reduction as well as a new policy that saves at least 25% of the seats for women.

Egypt has currently blocked 34,000 websites that campaign against the new amendments. These websites have gathered nearly 250,000 signatures. “Given the ongoing repression, and that political opposition in Egypt has dwindled to a nominal presence, a free and fair vote will be impossible,” the Human Rights Watch said in a recent statement. Bahey Eldin Hassan, the Director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies said in an editorial opinion for The Washington Post  “Since 2013, the country has experienced the biggest authoritarian crackdown in its modern history, aimed at members of the peaceful opposition, both Islamist and secular. More than 60,000 people have been jailed for political reasons, and hundreds have died in prison.”