After much anticipation, Egypt’s House of Representatives has finally voted on some of the proposed, and most controversial, amendments to Egypt’s 2014 constitution.
According to state-owned news outlet Al Ahram, the amendments include the approval for the presidential term to be for six years, the reinstitution of the “vice president” post and allocating a quarter of the parliamentary seats to female representatives.
For the presidential term, the duration of office has leaped from four to six years; a candidate cannot hold the office position more than twice (article 140). According to these amendments, President Abdelfattah Al Sisi is expected to continue his term until 2024. President Sisi will be able to run for one further term of six years at the end of his current (extended) term in 2024.
The amendments also affect the running operations of the House of Representatives with the seat number of MPs being cut down from 596 to 450 MPs (article 102).
For the amendments to go into effect, a national referendum has been decided for the dates of 22, 23 and 24 of April. Egyptian nationals living abroad can vote on April 20 and 21.
What exactly may be changing?
There are a number of significant changes, beyond extending the presidential term from four to six years, that voters will be expected to consider in voting for or against the constitutional amendments.
These changes include the following:
Introduction of a Senate
A Senate will be introduced and will comprise of 180 members, each with a term of five years.
Two thirds of the Senate’s members must be elected in a secret ballot, while a third will be directly appointed by the President.
To run for Senate, a potential member must at least 35-years-old and must holds a university degree. A number of other general conditions will apply (such as a requirement to be an Egyptian citizen and not have engaged in any criminal conduct that disqualifies the potential member).
Deputies May be Appointed by the President
The President may now appoint one or more deputies who may be delegated to perform some of his duties. This includes appointment of a Vice President. Any such deputies may be relieved from their duties by the President at any time.
If, for any reason, the President is temporarily unable to perform his duties, the Vice President (or Prime Minister if there is no Vice President) will become a caretaker president.
Reducing the number of MPs
The House of Representatives’ membership will be reduced from 596 members of parliament to 450. At least 25 percent of the House of Representatives must be reserved for women.
Military trial restrictions
Any civilian arrested may face a military trial only where such a civilian has attacked or otherwise assaulted a military establishment or resource. This includes any attack or sabotage of military equipment (such as vehicles and weapons), documents, assault of a military officer who is on duty and more.