Egypt’s parliament advanced a proposal on Tuesday to amend the constitution in a way that could allow President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to stay in office well beyond the end of his current term in 2022, AP reported.
El-Sissi led the 2013 military overthrow of an elected but divisive Islamist president and was elected the following year. He has presided over an unprecedented crackdown on dissent, and was re-elected last year after all potentially serious challengers were jailed or pressured to exit the race.
A constitutional amendment to extend el-Sissi’s rule would add to concerns that the country is slipping back into authoritarianism eight years after a pro-democracy uprising ended Hosni Mubarak’s nearly three-decade rule.
Parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Al said two-thirds of the general committee endorsed the proposed amendments. It’s unclear when the 596-seat assembly — which is packed with el-Sissi supporters — will take a final vote. A national referendum would need to be held to amend the constitution.
A draft of the proposed amendments, obtained by The Associated Press, shows concerted efforts by the pro-government “Supporting Egypt” coalition to consolidate el-Sissi’s power. The 64-year-old leader could be allowed to run for a third and fourth six-year term, potentially extending his rule to 2034.
The motion was submitted Sunday after approval by a required fifth of the chamber’s 596 lawmakers, the vast majority of whom are el-Sissi supporters.