Egypt's parliament votes to extend Sisi rule

17 Avril, 2019, 17:41 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Sisi has presided over an unprecedented crackdown on dissent since the 2013 coup d'etat

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.

Sisi's supporters say the changes are necessary to give him more time to complete major development projects and economic reforms.

The proposed changes lengthen presidential terms to six years instead of four, including Sisi's current mandate. He was re-elected to another four-year term last year, after all potentially serious challengers were arrested or pressured to withdraw from the race.

Parliamentary Speaker Ali Abdel Aal said the president had no lust for power and had nothing to do with the proposed amendments.

He was first elected to office in 2014, the year after he, as defence minister, led the military intervention to remove the divisive president, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

He was re-elected in 2018 with more than 97 percent of the vote, after standing virtually unopposed.

"The final votes on all the amendments package have yet to be tallied", MP Mohamed Abu Hamed told AFP.

The house also approved a supreme political role for the military, created at least one position for vice president to be appointed by Mr El Sisi, and dictated that at least a quarter of MPs are women.

The vote comes after veteran presidents were ousted both in Algeria and Sudan and amid an escalation of the conflict in Libya.

Keeping Sisi in power, he added, reflects "the will of the people".

Al-Ahram's website said MPs carried Egyptian flags as they gathered for the vote inside the parliament while nationalistic songs played in the background.

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Since early April, the Egyptian capital has been awash with large posters and banners encouraging people to vote in favour of the changes.

Such banners have enveloped Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square, the site of the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak.

The changes to extend presidential terms are part of amendments initially introduced in February by a parliamentary bloc supportive of President Sisi and updated this week after several rounds of debates.

The new amendments would allow Sisi to stay for two more years after his four-year term ends in 2022.

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.

Since Sisi overthrew Morsi, Egypt has drawn heavy worldwide criticism for its sweeping crackdown on dissent.

The authorities have jailed thousands of Morsi's supporters as well as liberal and secular activists, including a popular blogger, actors, singers and journalists.

His fellow actor criticised Sisi's narrative that his rule brought stability.

Amnesty International said that by approving the amendments, the parliamentarians had shown a "complete disregard for human rights".

Mr Abdel Aal says that the constitution should not be treated as scripture and that Egyptians have the right to amend it to keep pace with political and societal changes.

In the past three years, more than 15,000 civilians, including children, have been referred to military prosecution in Egypt, according to Human Rights Watch.

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