MPs to vote on granting president control over judiciary and boosting military power
'Egypt’s parliament is to vote on a bill of sweeping constitutional changes this week that would increase President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s power and allow him to rule until 2030.
MPs are expected to overwhelmingly confirm the bill on Tuesday, triggering a referendum. The proposed reforms, which were moved swiftly through committee hearings and parliamentary debates, would grant Sisi control over the judiciary, increase the military’s political power and extend presidential terms to six years.
The former general, who became president in 2014 after a coup the previous year, was re-elected in 2018 with 97.8% of the vote. His attempt to extend his rule comes as autocrats in neighbouring Sudan and Algeria have fallen to popular protests after decades in power.
Posters urging Egyptians to vote yes to the proposed changes began appearing across Cairo more than a week ago. “A bright future, a better tomorrow,” declared one poster. “Yes to the constitutional amendments. Yes to stability and development,” extolled another, showing Sisi’s face and a bright red tick within an ornate frame.
No banners showing dissent were visible on the streets, and members of the country’s fragile opposition said they were prevented from campaigning openly.
“Right now the country needs stability, and from what I understand, these constitutional amendments will bring stability,” said Mohamed al-Sharkawi, a restaurant owner who hung a banner of support for a yes vote in his restaurant.
During a hearing in February, 485 out of 596 MPs voted to advance the bill. What little criticism was permitted in previous debate stages, during which one MP described the changes as “medieval” and said they would aid autocratic rule, has since been all but silenced.'
Read more: Sisi could rule Egypt until 2030 under constitutional changes