Referendum on Constitutional Amendments in Egypt

The Egyptians are voting for the constitutional amendments which were overwhelmingly approved by the Egyptian Parliament.

Amendments Proposed

  • The amendments extend presidential terms from four to six years.
  • The amendments incorporate a transitional article which would give the “current president” the right to two new terms totalling 12 years.
  • The president would be allowed to pick the heads of judicial bodies and to oversee a new council charged with looking after the affairs of judges.
  • The amendments confer a political role for the army to “protect” the constitution, democracy and the “civilian” nature of the state — code for preventing rule by Islamists.
  • The amendments introduce one or more vice presidents, revive the Senate and enshrine a 25 per cent quota for women in parliament’s lower, legislative chamber.

Criticisms against the Amendments

  • The sweeping constitutional changes show that Egypt is sinking deeper into dictatorship even though the supporters insist they are crucial for cementing stability.
  • The amendments effectively serve to destroy the constitutional separation of powers, concentrating all authority into the president’s hands and solidifying his authoritarian rule.
  • The amendment would formalise the military’s already considerable influence over public life.

The referendum comes eight years after a pro-democracy uprising ended Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade autocratic rule, and nearly six years after el-Sisi led a popular military overthrow Egypt’s first freely elected but divisive Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi.

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