The constitutional amendments which are currently being discussed by the House of Representatives are in favour of Egypt and not incumbent President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, the head of the Egyptian Freedom Party, Salah Hasaballah, said yesterday.
Hasaballah’s remarks came during a conference organised by the Egyptian Freedom Party, which he chairs. The event – held under the slogan “Be responsible, take part in the constitution” – was said to be an effort “to urge Egyptians to participate in the amendments referendum.”
“Practicing political work should be through the direct interaction with the country’s citizens not by sitting in the office,” the Egyptian parliament’s spokesperson stressed.
The party’s campaign, Hasaballah pointed out, aims at increasing the local participation in the upcoming referendum on the country’s constitutional amendments “whether the citizen is with or against the move.”
“Those who believe that freedom could be achieved by implementing a single point of view are mistaken,” he explained, adding that the proper practice of democracy was by “participating in the referendum”.
“Egyptians are the ones who asked President Al-Sisi to run in the 2014 presidential election,” Hasaballah noted, stressing that Al-Sisi “has been doing his best to revive the country’s various sectors and economy.”
“Al-Sisi is God’s gift to all Egyptians,” the lawmaker reiterated.
Since it was first proposed by the parliament in February, constitutional changes have split the North African country in two. An overwhelming majority in the parliament, which is dominated by supporters of Al-Sisi, voted for the changes in principle last month, with 485 of 596 lawmakers voting in favour. But a coalition of Egyptian opposition parties said last week that the constitutional changes “could allow Al-Sisi to stay in power until 2034 and would pave the way for years of absolute individual rule.”
The proposed amendments would reset presidential term limits, bolster the role of the military and increase the president’s power over the judiciary. They would extend the two-term presidential limit from eight to 12 years and would reset the clock for Al-Sisi when his current term finishes in 2022. The parliament is expected to give its final approval in mid-April, with a national referendum to follow.
CBNC quoted Al-Sisi in November 2017 as saying that he had no intention to amend the constitution and that he refused a third term. “I am with preserving two four-year terms and not to change it … I am not for any amendments to be made to the constitution in this period,” Al-Sisi told the Dubai-based channel.
According to the Egyptian law, any changes to the constitution require the approval of two-thirds of parliament members, followed by a referendum.
Al-Sisi is a former general who came to power after the military overthrew the country’s first freely-elected President Mohamed Morsi in 2013 following mass protests against his rule. Al-Sisi was elected president the following year in a poll which international bodies have repeatedly criticised.