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Egypt: Calls for New Constitutional Amendments

(Aug. 29, 2017) On August 16, 2017, members of Egypt’s Council of Representatives (the parliament) suggested revisions to a number of articles of the 2014 Constitution, including articles 103, 140, 146, and 190.)  (Slah Issah, The Three Dimensions of Constitution Amendments, AL-MASRY AL-YOUM (Aug. 11, 2017) (in Arabic); Egypt’s Constitution of 2014, CONSTITUTE PROJECT.)

The proposed revision of article 140 is aimed at expanding the current presidential term from four years to six. Article 146, under which the President must obtain the approval of the Council of Representatives before he can appoint or dismiss members of the Cabinet, is also targeted for amendment. The constitutional revision might also affect article 190 by stripping the administrative court (the State Council) of some of its powers.  (Issah, supra.)   Furthermore, some members who support the amendment of the Constitution call for the repeal of article 103, on the nature of membership in the Council of Representatives, which prescribes that MPs devote all their time to legislative work, preventing them from pursuing other, outside work.  (Id.)

Proponents and Opponents of the Amendments

The suggestions to amend the Constitution have generated debate among two groups of Members of Parliament and legal scholars. Individuals who support the suggested constitutional modifications argue that such amendments will help the executive branch, especially the President,  execute and successfully achieve his entire development program in a timely fashion, without facing any obstacles.  They also say that expanding the presidential term will enhance economic and political stability.  Finally, they contend that organizing a presidential election every four years is very costly, in terms of security as well as finances.  (Gaml Essam el-Din, Calls for Constitutional Amendment to Extend Egypt’s Presidential Terms Spark Debate, AHRAM ONLINE (Aug. 16, 2017).)

Opponents of the amendments claim that the real purpose of the suggested revisions is to enhance the powers of the President and assist him in remaining in office as long as he can. (Taha Sakr, MP’s Suggestion to Extend Presidential Term to 6 Years Stirs Controversy, EGYPT INDEPENDENT (Aug. 13, 2017).)