Thursday, April 18, 2019

Egypt’s Constitutional amendments : The final version

In less than 24 hours, Egyptians around the globe should be flocking to Egyptian embassies and consulate to kick off the Constitutional amendments referendum officially.
Here are the final version of the constitutional amendments as approved by the parliament and as originally published by Ahram Online in English.
Constitutional amendments
Pro-amendments banner in Heliopolis 

The articles involving the President of the Republic

The most controversial two amended articles from those controversial amendments.
In 70 days, the presidential term period changed according to Al-Manassa report.
The draft of the constitutional amendments which was presented to the House of Representatives on 9 February allowed current Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to stay in power and run for the office till the year 2034.

Then on 12 April, the amendment changed to allow Sisi to run for the office till the year 2026.
On 13 April, the amendment changed to allow him to run for the office till the year 2024.
A day later, on 14 April the amendment was changed to allow him to run till the year 2030.
Up till now, I do not fully understand why those changes took place.

Needless to say, I am totally against any extension of any kind to any president even if he were the man that transferred Egypt into a total liberal constitutional parliamentary country. There is also a constitutional debate that this amendment itself is unconstitutional and contradicts with Constitution 2014 and its articles that stipulates any amendments to the presidential powers related articles must be accompanied with more guarantees in political freedoms 

Amended Article No.140 :

The president of the Republic shall be elected for six (instead of four) years, beginning on the day after the end of his predecessor's term, and he/she cannot remain in office for more than two consecutive terms.

New transitional article 214 :

The term of the current sitting president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is to end after six years following the date of his election as president in 2018, and he can be re-elected for another six-year term.

The articles involving the vice president’s position
That position was originally abolished in Constitution 2014 for no apparent reason but it is back.
The word says that there current minister of transportation Kamel El-Wazir and current head of General intelligence service Abbas Kamel.

New article 150 :

The president of the Republic may appoint one or more deputies and shall determine their duties. The president may delegate his deputies to perform some of his duties and he has the authority to relieve them from their posts and accept their resignation.
The vice president of the Republic shall take the oath as stipulated in Article 144 of the constitution before the president of the republic.
The provisions of the constitution shall apply to the vice president of the republic in articles 141, 145 and 173.

New Article 160 :

If a temporary obstacle makes the elected president unable to perform his duties, he will be replaced by a vice president or prime minister if there is no vice president.
If a caretaker president takes office, he shall not be entitled to amend the constitution, dissolve the House of Representatives or Senate, or dismiss the government. The caretaker president will also not be allowed to run for president.

Article Involving House of Representatives
The number of the elected MPs is reduced as according to those amendments we are going to have an upper chamber in the parliament.

At the same time, there would be a special quota for women “nearly 25%”.  Officials in the National Council of Women speak about that amendment as a victory for women but honestly and personally previous experiences of quota in Egypt it does not truly benefit women.
As long as there is weak parliament or House of Representatives with one voice of extreme majority supporting the regime or the government, there will be no true political representation or participation.

Amended Article 102 :

The change aims to reduce the number of elected MPs in the House of Representatives (Egypt’s lower house of parliament) from 596 to 450 MPs, with at least 25 percent of the seats (112 seats) to be reserved for women representatives.

Article involving Judiciary
Now just like extending the presidential terms’ article, this article witnessed several adjustments till it reached to the final version in front of you.

The MPs of the Constitutional and legislation committee in the parliament did not vote on it on Sunday like the rest of the articles.

An unnamed MP from Support Egypt Bloc told Mada Masr that due the pressure of the Judicial authorities institutions and bodies, the proposed amendment was amended.
It is worth to mention that till the start of April, the  State Council club was heading the movement against the original proposed amendment.

Already there is a true concern that this article even in its latest form will diminish the basic separation between executive power and judicial power in the Egyptian constitution.

Amended article 185

Each individual judicial authority shall take charge of running its own affairs, and it will be consulted on laws regulating its own business. The president of the Republic shall appoint the heads of judicial authorities from among five who will be nominated by its higher councils, and their term of office will be four years.

A higher council for judicial authorities will be created and the president of the republic will be its head. The council will take charge of discussing the affairs of judicial authorities. In case of the president's absence, ahead of a judicial authority will be delegated by the president to consider the conditions of appointing members of judicial authorities and their promotion, and he will be consulted on laws regulating their business.

Judicial authorities will also have their own independent budget. A law to be issued to regulate the roles of the Higher Council for Judicial Authorities and its decisions are to be taken by consensus of its members.

Articles involving Egyptian armed forces
For the first in the history of Egypt’s Constitutions since the 1923 Constitution, the Egyptian armed forces will “maintain” the basic pillars of the State and its “civilian nature”. 
Many including myself fear that this article will the armed forces to interfere in the political process officially and constitutionally for the sake of maintaining the “Civilian nature” of the state.

Amended Article 200:

The Armed Forces is the people's arm, and its job is to protect the country, safeguard its security and the integrity of its land, preserve the constitution and democracy, maintain the basic pillars of the state and its civilian nature, and uphold the gains of the people, and the rights and freedoms of individuals.
The state will be exclusively authorized to create such forces, and any other individuals, authorities, or groups will be banned from forming military or semi-military organizations and militias.

Amended Article 204 (second paragraph):

Civilians can face trial before military courts only in cases of assaulting military establishments, military camps, military zones and borders, military equipment, vehicles, weapons, ammunition, documents, secrets, funds, or army factories. Trials can also cover crimes related to recruitment and drafting, and assaulting officers and personnel affiliated with the Armed Forces while they are performing their duties.
Articles involving the return of the Senate “Shura Council”
The Senate aka Shura council is back. I have got no problem with it but I believe a two-chamber parliament will be useful if we are having a true multi-partisan parliamentarian system in Egypt.

Article (248):

The Senate has the authority to study and propose what it deems to be the basis of democracy, the promotion of social peace, the basic elements of society and its supreme values, rights, freedoms and public duties, and the deepening and expansion of the democratic system.

Article (249):

The opinion of the Senate shall be taken for the following:
- Proposals for the amendment of one or more articles of the constitution.
- Drafting general plans for social and economic development.
- Treaties of reconciliation and alliance and all treaties relating to the rights of sovereignty.
- Drafting laws supplementing the constitution referred to the Senate by the president of the republic or the House of Representatives.
- Matters referred to the Senate by the president regarding the general policy of the state or its policy in Arab or foreign affairs.

Article (250):

The Senate shall be elected within the 60 days preceding the expiry of its term.
The Senate shall comprise 180 members at least, and its term will be five years. Two-thirds of the Senate's members shall be elected in a secret ballot, and a third will be appointed by the president.

Article (251):

A Senate member should be Egyptian, not less than 35 years old, have a university degree and legally allowed to exercise his/her civilian and political rights.
The law shall specify the conditions of the other candidates, the electoral system, and the division of the constituencies to take into consideration the equitable representation of the population and the governorates. The individual or existing electoral system may be introduced or combined in any proportion between them.

Article (252):

A Senate member cannot be a member of the House of Representatives at the same time.

Article (253):

The prime minister, his deputies, ministers and other members of the government shall not be held accountable to the Senate.

1 comment:

  1. Many of us reading, may no longer be alive in the year 2034, if we are 72 now. :)


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