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Wednesday, 6 February 2019

House’s general assembly gives nod to constitutional amendments

LEGISLATION WATCH- Proposed constitutional amendments are sent to committee for discussion: The House of Representatives’ general committee, which is comprised of the House speaker and heads of committees, has agreed to formally send proposed constitutional amendments to committee for discussion, according to a statement yesterday carried by Al Shorouk. The amendments, which still need to be approved by the House Constitutional Committee before going to a final vote within parliament, would extend the presidential term to six years instead of the current four and include a transitional clause that could allow El Sisi to run for two additional terms after his current term ends in 2022, according to a document seen by Reuters.

What other changes would be introduced? A lot of it is unclear. The amendments would bring back the Shura Council, allow for the appointment of one or more vice presidents, grant the president the authority to appoint judges and the prosecutor general, and require the Supreme Council of Armed Forces to approve the appointment of a defense minister. Draft legislation would also no longer require review from the judiciary, according to the Associated Press. The Council of State (Maglis El Dawla) is currently required to review all draft bills. It remains unclear what some changes entail, such as the “deepening and restructuring” of the Armed Forces’ role in the country. Also unclear is what the removal of articles governing the National Media Authority and National Press Authority may entail — are they being scrapped? Rolled under a different authority? Or simply left to parliament or the presidency to create and regulate outside the constitution?

The story is getting a lot of attention in the foreign press, with some, including the BBC, noting former presidential candidate Mohamed ElBaradei tweeting that the constitutional amendments are the “Arab Spring in reverse.”

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