Egypt MPs table law amendment to extend El-Sisi rule

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi giving a speech during his swearing in ceremony for a second four-year term in office, at the parliament meeting hall in the capital Cairo. (AFP/File)
Updated 04 February 2019
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Egypt MPs table law amendment to extend El-Sisi rule

  • The lawmakers who put forward the amendments hope to extend the length of mandates to two six-year terms

CAIRO: Egyptian lawmakers on Sunday tabled proposed constitutional changes that would allow President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to extend his rule beyond 2022, legislators said.

The bill submitted to speaker Ali Abdel Aal calls for several amendments to the constitution, including on the duration of presidential mandates currently limited to two four-year terms.

The lawmakers who put forward the amendments hope to extend the length of mandates to two six-year terms, which they say would allow El-Sisi to run for the presidency two more times after his second term expires in 2022.

That could see the former military chief ruling over Egypt until 2034.

The Parliament’s website said speaker Abdel Aal had received a “request from a fifth of the elected representatives (120 deputies out of the total 596) to amend certain articles of the constitution.”

That number fulfils the quorum required for such a request.

A statement published later on the Parliament’s website outlined seven amendments that it said would address “severe deficiencies in determining the presidency term.” 

Terms would become six years instead of four years, since the current term length “isn’t quite reasonable given the reality and the country’s and region’s circumstances,” it said.

The revisions were aimed at supporting the parliamentary representation of women, youths, Christians, people with special needs and Egyptians in the diaspora, it added.

They would include “the establishment of a second chamber of parliament... and the creation of the post of vice president to assist the president in his duties,” said the statement.

The bill was submitted by the majority pro-government Support Egypt coalition along with some independents, said Musatafa Bakri, one of the lawmakers who favors the change.

Jean Talaat, another El-Sisi backer, said “the amendments concern fewer than 10 articles of the constitution, including on the duration of the presidential term for its extension to six years.”

The establishment of a lower house would see a return to a bicameral parliamentary system.

That chamber was removed in the 2012 constitution, a year after the uprising that toppled long-time president Hosni Mubarak.

Another amendment would see the reinstatement of an information ministry, a portfolio that was abolished in 2014.

El-Sisi was elected for the first time in 2014, after ousting his predecessor Muhammad Mursi. The former army head was re-elected in 2018 with an official 97 percent of the vote. The vast majority of the current Parliament supports the El-Sisi government, with only around 10 lawmakers making up the opposition.


Palestine, Egypt offer air support as Israel battles wildfires

A firefighting aircraft flies over a forest near Kibbutz Harel, which was damaged by wildfires during a record heatwave, in Israel May 24, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 May 2019
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Palestine, Egypt offer air support as Israel battles wildfires

  • Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes on Thursday as fires raged
  • The fires were fueled by high temperatures and dry condition

JERUSALEM: Egypt and four European countries sent aircraft to help Israel battle wildfires that have forced the evacuation of some small towns, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday, as a record heatwave looked set to worsen conditions.
At an emergency briefing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had appealed for international help to combat the fires, and that firefighting planes were coming in from Greece, Croatia, Italy and Cyprus.
Egypt, on the orders of President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi, had also sent two helicopters to assist Israel, Netanyahu told reporters.
The Palestinian Authority and Russia had also offered help, Netanyahu said.
Israel braced for wildfires on Friday amid a major heat wave that shows no signs of abating.
Israel “really appreciates” the help, Netanyahu said, singling out El-Sisi for sending aid.
“I am deeply thankful for the readiness of neighbors to help us in a time of crisis, just as we help them,” Netanyahu said.
Israel’s Fire and Rescue Service said blazes in a key corridor between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv were mostly under control but difficult weather remained a conflagration risk.
“As of this moment, this (containment) is being done in the best possible way, but the challenge is yet ahead of us given the weather conditions, the winds and the extreme heat,” Netanyahu said.
Some 3,500 residents of small towns in the path of the fires were evacuated on Thursday, officials said. Dozens of homes have burned down.

Evacuations
Thousands of people were evacuated from towns and dozens of homes were burned on Thursday as fires raged, fueled by high temperatures and dry conditions. Over 500 acres of woodland have burned, said Nitai Zecharya, an Israeli official from the Jewish National Fund, known for planting forests in the country.
Zecharya said that while firefighters had brought most of the blaze under control, officials remained “very stressed” about strong winds fanning flames and “spreading fires to other fronts.”
The cause of the fires remains unclear, but they erupted following the Jewish festival of Lag Ba’Omer, which observers mark with bonfires.
A sweltering heat wave is pushing temperatures in parts of the country up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, or 43 Celsius.