Friday March 22, 2019
Home Lead Story Lawmakers In ...

Lawmakers In Egypt To Submit Request For Constitutional Amendments

Egyptian court had scheduled hearings on a petition by a number of Egyptian citizens demanding that the parliament speaker take steps to introduce constitutional changes that would allow Sissi to seek re-election after his second term in office expires.

0
//
Egypt
Members of Egypt's parliament convene in Cairo. VOA

A coalition of Egyptian parliamentarians will submit a request for constitutional amendments providing for a second chamber of parliament and the appointment of one or more deputy presidents, state news agency MENA reported on Saturday.

The move follows a separate attempt by a group of ordinary Egyptians to change presidential term limits in the constitution, which was adopted in 2014 after the military overthrew Islamist President Mohamed Morsi following protests against his rule.

Speculation has been rife that the authorities will seek changes to the constitution, which limits a president to two four-year terms in office, since President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi’s re-election in March in a vote against a marginal opponent.

The lawmakers’ proposed amendments will be presented to parliament speaker Ali Abdelaal on Sunday. Any changes need approval by two-thirds of parliament members, followed by a referendum.

FILE - Egyptian Shura Council members meet in the parliament's upper house, April 23, 2013.
Egyptian Shura Council members meet in the parliament’s upper house, April 23, 2013. VOA

MENA said the lawmakers’ proposed changes include restoring the Shura Council, an upper chamber that operated alongside the current 596-member House of Representatives, previously known as the People’s Assembly, until it was canceled in 2014; and the appointment of one deputy or more for the president.

The proposed amendments also include a quota guaranteeing women at least 25 percent of parliament seats, as well as “adequate representation” for youth, farmers, workers and the country’s Christian minority.

There was no word on any proposed changes to the limit on presidential terms, but the head of the “Support Egypt” coalition, which is spearheading the amendments, Abdel-Hadi al-Qassabi, said that parliament members were entitled to present a request to amend any article in the constitution.

melania trump
First Lady Melania Trump meets with Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and his wife Entissar Mohameed Amer at the Presidential Palace in Cairo, Egypt. VOA

Qassabi said that Article 226 of the constitution allows the president and a fifth of parliament members to propose an amendment to any article of the constitution.

Also Read: Fellow African Refugees Seek Help From Iowa Couple

MENA said in December that an Egyptian court had scheduled hearings on a petition by a number of Egyptian citizens demanding that the parliament speaker take steps to introduce constitutional changes that would allow Sissi to seek re-election after his second term in office expires.

The petitioners argue that Article 140 of the constitution, which sets the term limits, is “unfair to the great Egyptian people” and that eight years gives a president little time to deal with the economic and security challenges facing the country. (VOA)

Next Story

U.N. Urges Egypt To Halt All Executions Based On Confessions Obtained Against Torture

“There is significant cause for concern that due process and fair trial guarantees may not have been followed in some or all of these cases, and that the very serious allegations concerning the use of torture were not properly investigated,” Colville said.

0
Egypt
Family members of those convicted and executed for the killing of public prosecutor Hisham Barakat gather at Zynhom morgue in Cairo, Egypt, Feb. 20, 2019, as they wait for their bodies to be released. VOA

The U.N. Human Rights Office is urging Egypt to halt all executions and to conduct investigations into all allegations that people are subjected to the death penalty based on confessions obtained under torture.

Egypt has executed 15 people in February and the U.N. Human Rights Office notes the month is not yet over. The agency reports nine people were executed this week in a case related to the killing of Egypt’s General Prosecutor, Hisham Barakat.

Regarding six other killings earlier this month, it says three men were convicted of assassinating a police officer and three others in connection with the murder of the son of a judge.

Human rights office spokesman Rupert Colville said in all cases the defendants have told the court they were subjected to torture to make them confess to the crimes of which they were accused.

FILE - A defendant is seen caged in a courtroom in Torah prison, southern Cairo, Egypt, Aug. 22, 2015.
A defendant is seen caged in a courtroom in Torah prison, southern Cairo, Egypt, Aug. 22, 2015. VOA

Please enter facebook post url.

In June 2017, the U.N. Committee against Torture completed a four-year confidential inquiry and concluded that torture is “practiced systematically” in Egypt. Colville told VOA the recent allegations of torture, in almost all of these cases, come against this well-established backdrop that torture is endemic in Egypt.

Also Read: UN Nuclear Watchdog Claims, Iran Still Sticks on The Deal Terms

“If torture was used to make a confession a considerable part of the prosecution’s case, then that should not be admitted in court. That confession produced under torture should not be admissible. And when these allegations have been brought up by the defense lawyers and so on, our belief is they are not being taken seriously enough by the courts,” he said.

Colville said a number of individuals convicted under similar circumstances in Egypt have exhausted all legal proceedings. He says they currently are on death row at imminent risk of execution. (VOA)