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A bill by Egypt’s lawmakers seeks to extend Sisi’s rule1 minute read

The bill calls for several amendments to the constitution, including on the duration of presidential mandates

Kathleen Ndongmo

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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (C-L) giving a speech during his swearing in ceremony for a second four-year term in office, at the parliament meeting hall in the capital Cairo - AFP

Egyptian lawmakers have proposed constitutional changes that would allow President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to extend his rule beyond 2022, two of them said.

The bill submitted to speaker Ali Abdel Aal calls for several amendments to the constitution, including on the duration of presidential mandates currently limited to two four-year terms.

The lawmakers who put forward the amendments hope to extend the length of mandates to two six-year terms, which they say would allow Sisi to run for the presidency two more times after his second term expires in 2022.

That could see the former military chief ruling over Egypt until 2034.

The parliament’s website said speaker Abdel Aal had received a “request from a fifth of the elected representatives (120 deputies out of the total 596) to amend certain articles of the constitution”.

That number fulfils the quorum required for such a request.

The bill was submitted by the majority pro-government Support Egypt coalition along with some independents, said Musatafa Bakri, one of the lawmakers who favours the change.

Jean Talaat, another Sisi backer, said “the amendments concern fewer than 10 articles of the constitution, including on the duration of the presidential term for its extension to six years”.

One other amendment is for a return to a bicameral parliamentary system, with the establishment of a lower house.

That chamber was removed in the 2012 constitution, a year after the uprising that toppled long-time president Hosni Mubarak.

Another amendment would see the reinstatement of an information ministry, a portfolio that was abolished in 2014.

Sisi was elected for the first time in 2014, after ousting his predecessor, the Islamist Mohamed Morsi. The former army head was re-elected in 2018 with 97 percent of the vote.

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

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North Africa

Sudan gets new defence minister

Maj. Gen Yassin Ibrahim, 62, was sworn in Tuesday before Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the ruling sovereign council, a statement from the council said.

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PHOTO: Maj. Gen. Yassin Ibrahim Yassin, left, takes the oath as Minister of Defense in front of Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the ruling sovereign council, at the Presidential Palace, in Khartoum, Sudan, on June 2, 2020/ AP

Sudan has sworn in new defence minister, Maj. Gen Yassin Ibrahim, two months after the death of the former defence chief, General Jamal al-Din Omar who died while in neighbouring South Sudan for peace talks with the country’s main rebel groups.

Ibrahim, 62, was sworn in Tuesday before Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the ruling sovereign council, a statement from the council.

The new defence chief came out of retirement to take the position.

His appointment comes a year after long-time autocrat Omar Bashir was toppled in mass protests in April 2019.

“We will work side by side doing our best… to achieve the goals of the constitutional declaration,” the official SUNA news agency quoted Ibrahim as saying after he was sworn in.

The swearing-in came amid tensions with neighbouring Ethiopia over a cross-border attack allegedly conducted by a militia backed by Ethiopia’s military.

Since August last year a transitional government, comprised of civilians and military officials, has taken over the reins of power in Sudan after political factions adopted a constitutional declaration.

The declaration paved the way for the new government to steer the country to civilian rule during a three-year transition.

But the transition has been fragile with the government facing major challenges, including soaring inflation, a huge public debt, tribal clashes and efforts to forge peace with rebels. 

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Health

Tunisia to reopen borders, airspace on June 27

Tunisian Prime Minister, Elyes Fakhfakh also said Tunisian nationals abroad will be repatriated from June 4.

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Tunisia's new Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh speaks during the government handover ceremony in Carthage on the eastern outskirts of the capital Tunis on February 28, 2020. (Photo by FETHI BELAID / AFP)

Tunisian Prime Minister, Elyes Fakhfakh has announced that the country will reopen its land, air and sea borders from June 27.

He also said Tunisian nationals abroad will be repatriated from June 4.

Fakhfakh made the announcement after a meeting with the national commission to combat coronavirus on Monday.

Tunisia has reported 1,084 confirmed coronavirus cases so far, a Xinxua news agency report said.

The North African country has received support from various countries including China.

On April 16, China donated a batch of medical aid to Tunisia’s Ministry of National Defense, including facemasks, test kits and medical protective googles.

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North Africa

Egypt, France plan to end terrorism in Libya

Both countries showed support for international endeavors as well as implementing the results of the Berlin process to end the conflict in Libya.

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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron discussed the matter during a telelphone conversation on Saturday.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron have discussed the development of several regional issues, including the situation in Libya.

During a phone call on Saturday, Macron said he is keen to exchange views with Sisi over these issues as Cairo plays a key political role in the region, Egyptian Presidential Spokesman Bassam Rady said in a statement.

For his part, Sisi affirmed Egypt’s firm position towards the Libyan crisis based on restoring Libyan national state institutions, ending the spread of criminal groups and terrorist militias.

He added that Egypt also gives top priority to combating terrorism, achieving stability and security and putting an end to illegal foreign interventions in Libya, a Xinhua news agency report said.

The two presidents agreed to intensify their coordination in the coming period, stressing the necessity to end the Libyan crisis by reaching a political solution that paves the way for the return of security and stability in the country, the spokesman said.

They showed support for international endeavors as well as implementing the results of the Berlin process to end the conflict in Libya.

Libya has been locked in a civil war since the ouster and killing of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The Libyan conflict escalated in 2014, splitting power between two rival governments, the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in the capital Tripoli and another in the northeastern city of Tobruk allied with self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar.

While Egypt supports Haftar’s LNA that seeks to take over Tripoli, Turkey backs the Tripoli-based GNA. 

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