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
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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)


British-Iranian aid worker moved back to jail from hospital ward — husband

In this undated photo provided by the Free Nazanin Campaign, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe hugs her daughter Gabriella, in Iran. (AP)
Updated 19 min 53 sec ago
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British-Iranian aid worker moved back to jail from hospital ward — husband

  • British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told parliament the fact she had been moved back to prison was “a positive sign”

LONDON: British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been transferred back to an Iranian prison from a hospital psychiatric ward, her husband said on Monday.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was moved to the psychiatric ward of Imam Khomeini hospital in the capital on July 15, the “Free Nazanin” campaign group run by her husband said last week.
“Nazanin has been returned from psychiatric hospital, and is now back in Evin prison,” her husband, Richard, said in a statement. She was discharged at her request and the request of the hospital doctor, the campaign group said.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was told she had been admitted to hospital for a 10-day period of assessment. She received psychotherapy sessions, had physical checks and was prescribed some medicines, the campaign group seeking her release said.
In its release, the group quoted Zaghari-Ratcliffe saying that she was kept in a private room measuring 2 meters by 3 meters (6.5 feet by 9.8 feet) and was handcuffed and chained to the bed day and night.
The Iranian embassy in London declined immediate comment on the case.
“They did all they could to me – handcuffs, ankle cuffs, in a private room 2x3m, with thick curtains, and the door closed all the time,” she was quoted as saying. “I wasn’t allowed to leave the room, as I was chained to the bed.”
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told parliament the fact she had been moved back to prison was “a positive sign.”
“The way that she was detained for a week without being able to have any access to her family was totally unacceptable and I am afraid all too predictable from the Iranian regime,” he said.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in April 2016 at a Tehran airport as she headed back to Britain with her daughter after a family visit, and was sentenced to five years in jail after being convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran’s clerical establishment.
Her family and the Foundation, a charity organization that operates independently of Thomson Reuters and Reuters News, deny the charge.