Egypt's parliament votes to extend Sisi's presidency

Egypt's parliament gives preliminary approval to constitutional changes that would allow Sisi to stay in power after his second term ends.

Elad Benari ,

Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi
Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi

Egypt's parliament on Thursday gave preliminary approval to constitutional changes that would allow President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to stay in power after his second term ends in 2022, AFP reports.

485 lawmakers out of 596 "endorsed in principle the constitutional amendments after three consecutive sessions that lasted more than 10 hours," a statement on parliament's website said.

It did not say how many MPs voted against but Haitham al-Hariri, a member of a small opposition group, said 16 MPs opposed the proposals.

The amendments will now be submitted to parliament's legislative commission which must draft them into legislation and return them to parliament within 60 days for a final vote.

If the vote is passed by a majority of two thirds, parliament will then hold a referendum in line with the conditions of the 2014 constitution.

The constitutional amendments were initially submitted earlier this month. The vote on the amendment was initially scheduled for February 17 but the parliament decided to accelerate the process and move up the vote.

Sisi swept to another four years in office against in the country’s elections in March of 2018.

He has in the past indicated, however, that he would not seek a third term in office, noting the country's constitution permits its leaders to serve only two four-year terms.

Backers of Sisi have been pressing parliament to repeal an article in the constitution limiting presidents to two consecutive four-year terms.

The key amendment calls for extending the president's term in office from four years to six, parliament said on its website.

The vast majority of the current parliament supports the Sisi government, with only around 10 lawmakers making up the opposition.

Sisi has been dealing with the Islamist insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula, where the local Islamic State (ISIS) affiliate has carried out countless terrorist attacks since 2014.

Egyptian forces have since February of 2018 been waging a sweeping operation against the local affiliate of the Islamic State group in the restive North Sinai province.