Egypt MP seeks end to constitutional restrictions on presidential terms

A handout picture released by the Egyptian Presidency on Sunday shows Egyptian President Abdel Fattah E-Sissi (R) meeting with General Joseph Votel, Commander of the US Central Command, at the presidential palace in the capital Cairo. (AFP / Egyptian Presidency handout photo)
Updated 26 February 2017
0

Egypt MP seeks end to constitutional restrictions on presidential terms

CAIRO, Egypt: An Egyptian lawmaker started collecting signatures on Sunday for a motion to extend presidential terms and lift restrictions on re-election — a year before general-turned-president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s first term is due to expire.
As defense minister, Sissi overthrew elected President Mohammed Mursi, a Muslim Brotherhood official, in mid-2013 following mass protests against his rule and launched a crackdown on Egypt’s oldest Islamist movement.
El-Sissi, now 62, went on to win a presidential vote in 2014. He has not said whether he will seek re-election when his current term ends in 2018, but has made much of his popular mandate and promised to respect the will of Egyptians.
The move by independent lawmaker Ismail Nasreddine to amend article 140 of the constitution would enable Sissi to stay in power longer than the two four-year terms currently permitted.
But the process is still at an early stage. Nasreddine, a low-profile lawmaker, will need the support of 20 percent of MPs to table a discussion on the issue in parliament.
“It will be the right of the president to nominate himself for the office as he wishes... and the right of the people to choose him or reject him,” Nasreddine told reporters, adding that he would begin putting the idea to lawmakers on Sunday.
Even if he is able to push an amendment through parliament by the required two-thirds majority, the constitution also stipulates that any revision be approved by popular referendum.
There was no immediate comment from Sissi’s office.
Sissi has sought to roll back freedoms won during the 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule, promising to restore stability to Egyptians fed up with years of political tumult.
The right to protest has been restricted while democracy and rights groups say they face growing government pressure and accuse Sissi of clamping down on political expression.
Egypt’s last elections took place in late 2015, ushering in the first lawmakers since an Islamist-dominated parliament elected after the 2011 revolt was dissolved by a court in 2012.
The elections saw an electoral bloc loyal to Sissi sweep to victory. On the eve of those elections, the head of the pro-Sissi bloc, told Reuters loyalist lawmakers would likely seek to amend the constitution to further empower the presidency and scale back powers vested in parliament. (Reporting by Mohamed Abdellah, Nashaat Hamdi and Ahmed Tolba)


Is a spate of terror incidents in Egypt a ‘last dance’ for militants or a failure in security operations

Updated 9 min 10 sec ago
0

Is a spate of terror incidents in Egypt a ‘last dance’ for militants or a failure in security operations

  • Some have speculated that the sudden spate of incidents is the militants lashing out to spoil the image that Egypt is returning to stability

CAIRO: Three terrorist attacks in the space of as many days have raised questions over whether the Egyptian security forces have brought extremist militancy in the country under control.

The attacks between Friday and Monday came after a period of relative calm. The Egyptian military has been involved in an extensive operation against terrorist groups in their stronghold in the Sinai Peninsula for more than a year. Police forces have also been carrying out operations against cells in a large number of governorates.

The first of the three incidents was a failed attempt to plant a bomb near security forces in Cairo on Friday. On Saturday, however, a massive blast killed 14 members of the military on a security mission near El-Arish in Sinai.
The third bombing on Monday could have been just as deadly. A suicide bomber blew himself up after he was chased by police in the densely populated Al-Hussein district of Cairo near Al-Azhar Mosque. In the end three officers were killed.
The attacks came after months of relative calm in an insurgency that began after the Muslim Brotherhood president Muhammad Mursi was removed from power in 2012.
Since then, militants have targeted the Egyptian security forces, churches, coptic Christians, tourists and ordinary Egyptians, killing hundreds.
In November 2017, gunmen carried out the deadliest terror attack in Egyptian history — killing more than 300 people at a Sufi mosque in northern Sinai.

In response, the military launched a vast operation in February last year to “eliminate terrorism in Egypt.” The operation is ongoing.

Some have speculated that the sudden spate of incidents is the militants lashing out to spoil the image that Egypt is returning to stability.

“[Terrorists] want to give Egypt a bad image to foreigners living abroad, on order to make a point. They want to abort the democratic reform process that Egypt’s been implementing in the past period,” MP Mohamed Maher Hamed told Arab News.

Author and political analyst Walid Qutb said Egypt is keen to host more important regional and international events and forums, including the African Nations football tournament, and a drop in terror-related incidents is key to this.

He said the return of terrorist operations at this time is an attempt to send a clear message that Egypt is not a safe country. What the extremists have done recently is a final dance and lost, Qutb said.
But political analyst Nabil Omar told Arab News that the elimination of terrorism requires more than just maintaining security forces.
There needs to be improved education and the spreading of correct information to improve the mentality of Egyptians, he said.
“I don’t think that the return of terrorist operations happening currently is linked to changes in politics in Egypt,” Omar said. “It has nothing to do with how well security is either. “Terrorist attacks are happening because the terrorists in question have decided to do so.”
The recent incidents in Cairo are both strange, Omar said. They targeted police forces in locations packed with civilians.
This could mean that terrorists want their attacks to be even bigger and deadlier, even if that comes at the cost of the innocent or unarmed.
“The positive thing here is that these recent terrorist attacks came after a long period of silence. During that period of time, the Egyptian military had the upper hand in relation to the terrorists – who used to be more in control before,” Omar said.
The attacks came after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi described to the Munich Security Summit this week the Egyptian experience in regards to terrorism.