Egyptian parliament proposes presidential term extension

Egypt is considering extending its presidential term limit from four to six years, a move that could keep President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in power beyond 2022, the year in which his maximum two-term limit of four years each ends under the 2014 charter.

The speaker of Egypt’s parliament, Ali Abdelaal, noted that he received a motion from the Members of Parliament, proposing constitutional amendments that will be considered by the parliament after it is discussed in committee.

Mahmoud Badr, one of about 120 lawmakers who submitted the motion in a televised statement stated that Egypt’s constitution limits the president to two terms in office. Before the motion was submitted, another member of parliament, Mohamed Abu Hamed, noted in January that if presidential terms were extended, it would probably mean that the clock would be reset, and Sisi would be eligible for two new six-year terms. 

The demands for the extension of presidential terms have been circulating for a long time and the motion has been long expected. El-sisi’s supporters have argued that a four-year term limit is too short and the president needed more time to complete the big infrastructure projects he had launched.

El Sisi supporters went as far as going to court to request a forced parliamentary ruling to debate amendments to the constitution.

Meanwhile, the 64-year-old president has repeatedly vowed to step down if he no longer commands the support of Egyptians. “I stand here empowered by the will of Egyptians and if that ceases to exist, I will immediately step down.”

Other changes sought by the country’s parliamentarians include the introduction of an office of the vice-president, the restoration of the upper chamber of parliament or a senate, the enshrining of a quota of 25 percent for women in the House of Deputies and that the army should be given a role in preserving “the civilian” nature of the state — code for preventing an Islamist government.

Also included in the proposed constitutional change is the suitable representation for workers, farmers, youths and people with special needs in the legislature. In total, 17 amendments are being sought.

It may take a long time before the proposed amendments are made because the changes require approval by two-thirds of the parliament’s 596 members, followed by a referendum. The current constitution allows the president and a fifth of parliament members to propose an amendment to any of the constitution’s articles.