Referendum on Constitutional Amendments in Egypt
The Egyptians are voting for the constitutional amendments which were overwhelmingly approved by the Egyptian Parliament.
- 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.