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Egypt: Decree Enhancing President’s Powers Challenged Before Constitutional Court

(July 30, 2015) On July 27, 2015, lawyers representing the Egyptian Central Auditing Organization, a government body legally assigned to audit the budget, public funds, and expenses of other government agencies, including the office of the presidency, filed a lawsuit before the Supreme Constitutional Court challenging the constitutionality of a decree issued by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi promulgating Law No. 89/2015 on regulatory bodies. (Nourhan Fahmy, Constitutionality of Presidential Decree on Regulatory Bodies Challenged, DAILY NEWS EGYPT (July 27, 2015).)

Law 89/2015 expands the powers of the President by granting him the right to fire the chiefs of all government audit bodies assigned by the Constitution to monitor the expenses and the budget of the executive branch agencies, including the presidency. (Presidential Decree & Law No. 89 of 2015, 28 AL-JARIDAH AL-RASMIYAH Annex (A) (July 9, 2015) (in Arabic).)

The plaintiffs argued that the Law violates article 216 of the Egyptian Constitution of 2014, which states that chiefs of independent bodies, which would include the Egyptian Central Auditing Organization, cannot be dismissed from office except in cases stated in the law. The lawyers for the Central Auditing Organization further argued that the new Law also limits the independence of the organization, which is guaranteed under article 215 of the Constitution. (Fahmy, supra; Constitution of the Arab Republic of Egypt 2014 (Jan. 18, 2014), Egyptian State Information Services website (unofficial English translation).)

According to news reports, some political parties and legal experts also condemned the issuance of Law 89/2015. They questioned the legal reasoning behind the promulgation of such a law before the parliamentary elections, which are scheduled to take place in November 2015. Furthermore, they criticize the new law for threatening the independence and objectivity of the Central Auditing Organization. (Fahmy, supra.)