Start Asia Parliament is expanding al-Sisi’s power

Parliament is expanding al-Sisi’s power

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Egypt’s parliament has agreed to further expand the power of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. 531 out of 596 members of the House of Representatives voted by name on behalf of the state media in a roll-call vote to amend the constitution, which allows the head of state, inter alia, a prolonged term. Accordingly, there were 22 votes against.

A vote by the parliament, which was dominated by al-Sisi supporters, was considered safe after a first referendum vote. Critics had been pressured in advance. The changes must also be coordinated in a referendum.

In office until 2030?

The amendment to the constitution had been tabled by al-Sisi members. The parliament is dominated by followers of the ex-general. Al-Sisi took power in Egypt after the overthrow of elected Islamist president Mohammed Mursi in July 2013. He was first elected president in 2014, a year ago he was re-elected in an internationally criticized poll.

The second term of the 64-year-old would actually end in 2022. The constitutional amendments, however, extend them for another two years and give him the opportunity to compete for another six years in 2024. He could remain in power until 2030.

With the changes that have now been decided, Parliament is also expanding the influence of the President on the judiciary. He will preside over a High Judicial Council and appoint the Attorney General and the Chairman of the Supreme Constitutional Court. The role of the already influential military should also be strengthened. The constitutional amendments stipulated that the army should officially be given the task of „protecting the constitution and democracy“.

Repressive than under Mubarak

Many Egyptians see in al-Sisi the „strong man“, which put an end to the chaos after the overthrow of the long-time ruler Husni Mubarak in 2011. Human rights groups accuse him, however, that his rule is now more repressive than that of Mubarak. They fear that the human rights situation will continue to deteriorate. Tens of thousands are being held for political reasons. Freedom of the press and the right to demonstrate are massively restricted.

This and the continuing economic crisis, together with considerable price increases, damage the reputation of the head of state, who had promised economic stability. As early as 2017, al-Sisi had stated in an interview that he would not aim for a third term and would rule out a constitutional amendment.

Al-Sisi is outwardly happy to be the country’s father, who allegedly wants to lead Egypt towards more democracy. His followers argue that the changes are necessary to maintain stability in troubled times. Again and again, the head of state, an ex-general, justifies his harsh policy with the terrorist threat, for example in the north of the Sinai, where an offshoot of the IS terrorist militia is active.

Changes raise army over constitution

However, the Berlin Foundation for Science and Politics (SWP) concluded in an analysis that „the already all-powerful armed forces“ are „formally above the constitution“ with the constitutional amendments. Egypt is worried that the military could intervene more easily if something goes against their will. „The militarization of the state is so forced,“ writes the SWP.