The Egyptian parliament in Cairo approved changes to the country’s constitution that will grant President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi the legal backing to remain in power until 2030. Parliament Speaker Ali Abdelaal said: “I was informed by the Secretary General that the results of the voting on the constitutional amendments have resulted in the following. 554 members have voted, 531 members have agreed, 22 members have rejected, and one member has abstained. Therefore, the two thirds necessary majority is available for passing the constitutional amendments.”
In practical terms, the referred to amendments will extend President Sisi’s current term to six years from four and then allow him to run again for a third Presidential term, which would last six years, as well. The amendments would also bolster the role of the military in political life and increase the president’s power over the judiciary system.
Supporters of the amendments insist that the changes are necessary to give President Sisi more time to complete major development projects and economic reforms. His critics claim, however, that the changes concentrate more powers in the hands of a leader accused by human-rights groups and Islamist organizations of presiding over a relentless crackdown on freedoms. It is important to note, however, that even though parliament had approved the amendments, a nation-wide endorsement in a referendum is necessary to implement the changes. A date for the referendum has not yet been confirmed, but authorities have launched a wide-scale public campaign to encourage Egyptians to participate.