Egypt’s parliament is accelerating the process of passing constitutional amendments that would allow President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to stay in office well beyond the end of his current term in 2022. Lawmakers will decide Wednesday on whether to send the amendments to the legislative committee, a vote that was initially scheduled for Feb. 17, parliament spokesman Ahmed Saad el-Din said late Sunday. The legislative committee will have 60 days to discuss the amendments before a final vote. If approved, the amendments would be put to a national referendum. The move to extend presidential terms comes amid concerns that Egypt is slipping back into authoritarianism eight years after a pro-democracy uprising ended Hosni Mubarak’s nearly three-decade rule.
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.
The 596-seat parliament gave its preliminary approval to the amendments last week. The motion is virtually guaranteed to be approved by the legislature, which is packed with el-Sissi’s supporters. A coalition of nearly a dozen opposition parties has come out against the proposed amendments, but on their own they would not be able to block them.