Egypt’s Parliament Backs Measures That Could Extend Sisi’s Term

April 17, 2019 Updated: April 17, 2019

CAIRO—Egypt’s parliament on April 16 approved amendments to the constitution that could keep President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi in power until 2030, though they still have to be endorsed in a referendum to take effect.

The changes would extend Sissi’s current term to six years from four and then allow him to run again for a third term, which would last six years. The amendments would also bolster the role of the military in political life and increase the president’s power over the judiciary, critics of the changes say.

The 596-member parliament, which is dominated by Sissi supporters, voted 531 to 22 in favor of the amendments.

A date for the referendum has not yet been confirmed, but Cairo is full of banners encouraging Egyptians to participate.

The proposed changes include creating a second parliamentary chamber to be known as the Senate, composed of at least 180 members, a third of whom would be appointed by the president. They would also give the president new powers over the appointment of judges and the public prosecutor.

In a report about the draft amendments, the parliament’s legislative committee said a four-year term was not enough in Egypt, which is still recovering from the turmoil that followed a 2011 uprising.

“It is an unrealistic period… to achieve complete and sustainable development…,” a draft of the report seen by Reuters said regarding article 140, which would extend the presidential term to six years.

The committee said Sissi had not asked for the amendments.

The Civil Democratic Movement, a coalition of Egyptian opposition parties, called on April 15 for parliament to reject the changes and for Egyptians to vote against the amendments in the planned referendum.