Coalition formed to counter constitutional amendments

Eleven political parties and a number of political figures and members of the House of Representatives, as well as representatives of civil society organizations, announced the formation of a union to counter attempts to introduce new amendments to the constitution.

Following a meeting held at the Conservative Party headquarters on Monday, the union founders released a statement criticizing the constitutional amendments, describing them as an attempt to undermine the current social balance and undermine building a modern democratic civil state based on the peaceful handover of power, separation of powers, and respect for the constitution and law.

The union will represent a framework to protect and defend the constitution in all peaceful democratic ways, the statement said.

A committee comprising union members has been formed to draw up a plan to counter attempts to destroy the current constitution.

The meeting was attended by a number of public figures, including Abdel Galil Mostafa, George Ishaq, Ahmed al-Boraei, Magdy Abdel Hamid, Mohamed Abdel Alim Dawoud, Talaat Khalil, and Samir Alish. Political parties that took part in the meeting included the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, Tayar al-Karama Party, Egyptian Social Democratic Party, Dostor Party, Reform and Development Party, Freedom Egypt Party, and others.

The General Committee of the House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a request to amend the Egyptian constitution and referred it to the General Session for a vote.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Ali Abdul Aal on Sunday referred the request, submitted by more than one-fifth of the parliament members to amend the constitution, to the General Committee for discussion.

The pro-government parliamentary coalition Support Egypt, which controls a majority of 350 seats in the House of Representatives, has proposed the amendments after discussing the matter during a meeting for its political bureau on Sunday.

Coalition head Abdel Hadi al-Qasabi said that that the discussions unanimously agreed on the importance of amending certain constitutional articles. It was proposed to add a new parliamentary chamber under the name of the Senate (formerly known as the Shura Council), a woman quota in the parliament of 25 percent of the members, extending the presidential term in office from 4 to 6 years, and the appointment of one or more deputies to the president.

The 25-30 parliamentary bloc, which includes 16 MPs, announced its rejection to the amendments. At a press conference held at the Nasserite Party headquarters on Monday, 10 members of the party called on President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to reject it.

Egypt’s 2014 constitution was drafted by a committee that included representatives from different political entities who drafted a constitution that grants more powers to parliament than to the president in a quasi-parliamentary political system.

The 2014 constitution was approved by 98.1 percent of the 20 million people who voted, out of a total of 53 million eligible voters.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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