Al Sisi’s presidential ambitions conflict with Egypt’s constitution
by Dr. Ashraf Ramelah
By virtue of its own authority every dictatorial power — whether of military, religious or national — creates for the country a vital, intellectual space or atmosphere where propaganda can flourish. This is the means to enact authoritarian projects for the purpose of tightening a grip on society and to justify repressive actions. One such project is Abdel Fatah Al Sisi’s future presidential ambitions.
Past Egyptian regimes (as well as the present one) self-promote through public boasting and seek praise for their achievements by deluding the public. One case in point is Al Sisi’s Suez Canal mega-project. Egyptians are still waiting to see its benefits. For the regime to control the narrative, it will pre-empt the opposition in staged “democratic” debates on TV forums. The actors, host and guests, are well-versed in satisfying the regime’s desired outcomes.
An army of writers, journalists and broadcasters — servants of the regime — are always ready to serve the next authoritarian project when it comes along. Today’s mission of the Egyptian regime is to convince the public that President Al Sisi, who is in the middle of his second and final four-year term, needs more time in office than the current constitution allows. Al Sisi must continue. He has made promises to the people he needs to fulfill.
Al Sisi has said publicly more than once that he needs additional time to accomplish his goals. He must blatantly disregard the constitution to run for a third term — grabbing the potential to rule the country for many years to come. It matters little to him that Egypt’s constitution requires a president to have only two terms in office.
He will simply blame the populace for begging him to run for re-election — a figment of his imagination. Egyptians are still reeling over Al Sisi’s last offense against the constitution when, prior to signing away Egyptian land (two islands in the Red Sea) to Saudi Arabia, he neglected to seek parliamentary approval and a referendum vote from the people.
His faction in parliament is now pressing for an unconstitutionally proposed amendment to Article 140 that will give Egypt’s next president two six-year terms. This is fully intended for Al Sisi and a 20-year presidency by the year 2034. It’s being tailored for his longevity. Let’s not forget that Al Sisi’s challengers and potentially serious contenders for president are now sitting in jail or were threatened out of existence during the second-term primary. It’s therefore likely that Al Sisi will in the near future join the ranks of Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak for duration and pretty much all else.
The mechanics of Al Sisi’s latest constitutional breach
According to Egypt’s constitutional Article 226, it takes five members of the Egyptian Parliament to request a change in the form of an amendment to any article of the constitution. However, according to the same Article 226, presidential term limits (described in Article 140) can never be modified. Therefore, requesting to alter presidential term limits is unconstitutional.