Egypt parliament to vote this week to extend El-Sisi’s rule

Egyptian President and new African Union chairperson Abdel Fattah al-Sisi walks during the 32nd African Union (AU) during the 32nd African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa on February 10, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 11 February 2019
0

Egypt parliament to vote this week to extend El-Sisi’s rule

  • The vote was initially scheduled for next week, but is now being held as early as Wednesday
  • The development comes despite concerns that Egypt is slipping back into authoritarianism

CAIRO: Egypt’s parliament has put a rush on voting on proposed constitutional amendments that would allow President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to stay in office well beyond his current term, which ends in 2022.
The vote was initially scheduled for next week, but is now being held as early as Wednesday, lawmaker Nadia Henry said Monday.
The development comes despite concerns that Egypt is slipping back into authoritarianism, eight years after a pro-democracy uprising ended autocrat Hosni Mubarak’s nearly three-decade rule.
El-Sisi led the 2013 military overthrow of elected but divisive Islamist President Muhammad Mursi, and was elected the following year. Since then, he has presided over an unprecedented crackdown on dissent, and was re-elected last year after all potentially serious challengers were jailed or pressured to exit the race.
Once approved by lawmakers, the constitutional amendments would have to be put to a national referendum, Parliament spokesman Ahmed Saad el-Din said Sunday.
The 596-seat assembly had given its preliminary approval to the changes last week. The motion is near-certain to be approved by the legislature, packed with El-Sisi’s supporters.
The amendments also include novelties: the office of vice president, a revived Senate, and a 25 percent quota for women in Parliament. It also calls for “adequate” representation for workers, farmers, young people and people with special needs in the legislature.
The president would have the power to appoint top judges and bypass judiciary oversight in vetting draft legislation before it is voted into law.
The amendments are no surprise; pro-government figures and media have been lobbying for months that two terms are not enough for El-Sisi to fulfil his vision of modernizing the country, including overhauling its economy and defeating Islamic militants.
Yasser Rizq, chairman of the state-owned Al-Akhbar daily and a close confidant of El-Sisi, argued that the amendments were necessary to prevent Islamists from gaining power. He said he expects the referendum to take place before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. This year, Ramdan is expected to start in early May.
Former foreign minister Amr Moussa on Saturday called for “a wide national dialogue” on the amendments. Moussa, who also served as Arab League secretary-general, had chaired the panel that drafted Egypt’s current constitution in 2014.
He urged that all voices, advocates and opponents, should be heard “to enrich the political life in the country and guarantee credibility to the amendments.”


Sudan government arrests opposition leaders ahead of protest

Updated 21 February 2019
0

Sudan government arrests opposition leaders ahead of protest

  • The Sudanese Congress Party says government arrested leaders of Umma and Communist parties, among others
  • The demonstrators want the President Al-Bashir to resign

CAIRO: A Sudanese opposition party says more than 10 opposition leaders have been arrested ahead of the latest day of protests urging President Omar al-Bashir to resign.
In a statement, the Sudanese Congress Party says security forces "pre-empted" demonstrations by arresting the deputy head of the Umma Party, Mariam Sadiq al-Mahdi; the party's Secretary-General Sara Naqdallah; Communist Party leader Mokhtar al-Khatib, and others.
Later, police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds who had gathered to march, near the Arab Market area in Khartoum.
Sudan has been rocked by a wave of protests since December calling on al-Bashir, who seized power in a 1989 military coup, to step down. Activists say at least 57 people have been killed, but the government tally stands at 30.