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Monday, 11 February 2019

House moves up vote on general committee report on proposed constitutional amendments

LEGISLATION WATCH- House moves up vote on general committee report on proposed constitutional amendments: The House of Representatives is due to vote on Wednesday on a report prepared by its general committee, which is comprised of the House speaker and heads of committees, on proposed amendments to the constitution, according to Ahram Online. The plenary session vote was originally scheduled for next Sunday, 17 February. “If approved in principle, the 26-page report on the amendments will be referred to the constitutional and legislative affairs committee to be discussed in detail in hearing sessions,” the newspaper writes. The committee must approve the amendments before they are put to a final vote within parliament.

Background: The amendments would extend the presidential term to six years instead of the current four and include a transitional clause that could allow President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to run for two additional terms after his current term ends in 2022, among a host of other changes.

Some politicians are all for the amendments: A group of Egyptian political parties voiced their support yesterday for the proposed amendments, citing the “exceptional circumstances” in which the 2014 constitution came out. In separate statements, the parties (Hizb Al Geel, the Free Egyptians and Hezb Al Moatamar Al Masry) expressed said it is in the national interest to “update” the constitution, according to Al Masry Al Youm.

Amr Moussa urges caution: Former Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, who headed the committee of 50 that drafted the 2014 constitution, appeared to urge caution on Saturday as the House takes up the amendments, warning that “the state of anticipation and confusion … over the vagueness surrounding the constitutional amendments … could develop into negativity that would affect the entire country.” Moussa called for public consultations on the amendments. His “carefully worded” comments were a reflection of how “vibrant opposition to the changes has so far been restricted mostly to Facebook posts, tweets and a small number of newspaper articles worded with diligent caution,” Hamza Hendawi writes.

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