Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 August 2019

Egypt lawyer files case to change president's 2-term limit

Abdel Fattah El Sisi says he will not seek a third term, unless Egyptians want him to

In this December 11, 2017, file photo, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, speaks during a news conference in Cairo, Egypt. AP
In this December 11, 2017, file photo, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, speaks during a news conference in Cairo, Egypt. AP

An Egyptian lawyer said on Saturday he and others have filed a court case to force the country's parliament to debate amending a constitutional clause that bars President Abdel Fattah El Sisi from running for a third term in 2022.

The lawyer, Ayman Abdel-Hakim Ramadan, said a Cairo court will hold its first hearing in the case on December 23.

Mr El Sisi has said he would not seek a third term but has not been categorical about it – saying, for example, that he would not stay on unless Egyptians want him to. The country's constitution allows a maximum of two four-year terms.

Mr Ramadan said his "love" and "admiration" for a leader who has done so much for Egypt motivated his filing. But the case could be the first step in a campaign to engineer a climate receptive to the idea of amending the constitution. It could also help gauge popular sentiment on the issue.

However, the court might throw the case out on the grounds that it cannot prescribe a course of action to the legislature, according to prominent rights lawyer Mohammed Zaree. "But this court … has a track record of ruling on issues that are clearly not part of its jurisdiction," he said.

Parliament, packed by El Sisi supporters, will have to vote on any constitutional amendments, which will also have to be ratified in a national referendum.

Mr Ramadan said Mr El Sisi has overseen an "incredible" number of achievements since becoming president in 2014. "I love El Sisi very much and I believe in him," he said. "I want him president for life."

Mr El Sisi earlier this year won a second four-year term in office, showing authoritarian tendencies by running virtually unchallenged after all potentially serious candidates were either jailed or intimidated out of the race.

Since taking office, he has overseen the largest crackdown on dissents in Egypt in living memory, jailing thousands of extremists along with secular, pro-democracy activists and rolling back freedoms won in a 2011 popular uprising.

He has also worked consistently to overhaul the economy, upgrade the country's infrastructure and build new cities – policies that won him lavish praise from western backers but sparked steep price rises at home.

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Updated: December 9, 2018 02:05 PM

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