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The New Arab

Egypt's Sisi to extend presidential term to six years

Egypt's parliament is dominated by the "Support Egypt" coalition loyal to Sisi [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 May, 2016

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Egypt's president is seeking to prolong his hold on power and extend his term to six years by amending the country's constitution, political sources have said.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is preparing to amend his country's constitution to extend his term as president to six years from the constitutionally mandated four years.

Sisi has appointed members of parliament to draw up the amendments, which will be voted on later this year by a House of Representatives dominated by pro-government supporters, according to political sources.

"Lawmakers close to the president have begun to prepare changes to the constitution, which will be presented to parliament during the next legislative session, beginning in September," the sources told The New Arab.

"The amendments are in essence aimed at extending the presidential term limit to six years instead of four," the sources said, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

They said that before the changes are officially announced the government will launch a large-scale media campaign in June to promote Sisi's ambitious mega-projects and achievements over his past two years in power.

"Government officials have advised Sisi that this will be a more appropriate time [to announce the changes] because the media campaign will re-establish his popular support, which has declined," they added.

In Article 140, the constitution states: "The President of the Republic shall be elected for a period of four calendar years, commencing from the day following the termination of the term of his predecessor. The President may only be re-elected once."

The current Egyptian constitution was passed by referendum in January 2014 in the first vote after former president Mohammad Morsi was overthrown by a military coup, following mass street protests against his rule.

Egypt's parliament is dominated by the "Support Egypt" coalition – an alliance of over 400 MPs loyal to Sisi – which endorsed hundreds of laws issued by the president's decree while he wielded legislative power, since the democratically elected chamber was dissolved in mid-2012.

Sisi took office in June 2014, nearly a year after he, as military chief, led the ousting of Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president and member of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Sisi has since overseen the arrest of thousands of Morsi supporters as well as scores of pro-democracy activists who fuelled the 2011 uprising against the 29-year rule of autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Under his rule, many freedoms won as a result of the 2011 uprising have been eroded and a personality cult around Sisi has been built by supporters in the media.

Authorities have recently been cracking down on activists, journalists and rights lawyers following anti-government protests last month after Egypt surrendered control over two strategic Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.

On Monday, police arrested four members of a satirical street performance group that mocked Sisi and his supporters in videos posted online.

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