FILE - Plenary Session of the House of Representatives
CAIRO - 6 February 2019: The process to amend the constitution involves the House of Representatives, and the people who is expected to participate in the referendum to be held few months from now. Below are the details of measures to be taken.
The Amendment Process
In the section titled “The President of the Republic,” Article 226 of the constitution states:
“The President of the Republic or one fifth of the members in the House of Representatives have the right to propose the amendment of one or more articles of the constitution. The request has to include the articles proposed to be amended and the reasons behind the request.
The House of Representatives discusses the proposal within 30 days after submission, and makes a decision to either accept or reject the request totally or partially.
If rejected, it is prohibited to request the same amendments in the same parliamentary session.
If accepted, the House of Representative starts discussions after 60 days since the approval date.
If the draft amendments are approved by at least two thirds of all members, a referendum is held within 30 days starting the approval date. Amendments go into effect once the results come out in case the majority of valid votes are in favor of the draft.
In all cases, articles on the re-election of the President of the Republic, and on the principles of freedom and equality must not be amended unless the amendments are pertinent to further guarantees.”
On Tuesday, more than two thirds of the members of the General Committee at the House of Representatives voted in favor of the proposal to amend some articles in the constitution.
The proposal was submitted by the leader of the majority at the parliament and President of the Support Egypt Coalition Abdel Hady al-Qasabi to Speaker Ali Abdel Aal on Sunday.
The Process Within the House of Representatives
The General Committee convenes every month to follow-up on the work of parliamentary committees, and to discuss reports by control agencies, draft laws, and crucial matters. The committee is formed every parliamentary session on yearly basis. It is chaired by the speaker and encompasses the chairpersons of the House of Representatives committees, representatives of the parliamentary committees of political parties, five parliamentarians.
According to Article 140 of the House of Representatives Charter, the speaker submits the constitutional draft amendments to the General Committee within seven days after receiving the proposal to examine if they match Article 226 of the constitution.
As Article 141 of the charter indicates, “if the committee determines that the draft amendments breach the constitution, it submits a report to the speaker to be presented before the plenary session. A final decision is made after listening to the committee’s representative, ten supporters to the proposal, and ten opponents.”
As article 142 states, “if the plenary session or the General Committee concurs that the proposal meets the constitutional and legal terms, the General Committee prepares a report indicating its opinion within seven days to be presented before the plenary session.”
On Sunday, the General Committee concluded that the proposal would be discussed in the plenary session whose date and time have not been announced yet. However, the speaker said that the General Committee’s report was finished and would be sent to all parliamentarians one week ahead of the discussions.
Article 208 of the constitution within the section of “The National Elections Authority” states:
“The National Elections Authority is exclusively in charge of the administration of referenda, presidential, parliamentary, and municipal elections including the establishment and update of the voters database; suggestions to determine the electoral districts; the formulation of rules regulating campaigns and financing, the electoral spending, statements on spending; observation of the electoral process; and, facilitation of the voting measures for expats and other needed measures until the announcement of results. The law regulates all electoral processes.”
“The National Elections Authority is managed by a council composed of 10 members who are vice-presidents of the Court of Cassation, presidents of the courts of appeal, vice-presidents of the State Council, State Lawsuits Authority, and the Administrative Prosecution Authority.
Representatives of those entities receive equal number of seats, and are selected by the Supreme Judicial Council, and other judicial entities. The President of the Republic has to issue a decree on their appointment. They can only be delegated for one six-year term. The council of National Elections Authority must be chaired by the eldest member belonging to the Court of Cassation.
Half the members must be changed after three years of composing the council.
The authority can resort to public figures and experts in the elections realm without giving them the right to vote on its decisions.
The law regulates the formation and the operation system of the authority’s permanent administrative agency, the rights and duties of its members, and their selection requirements ensuring their impartiality, independence, and integrity.”
“The ballot is administered by personnel affiliated with the authority under the supervision of its council. The authority can delegate members from judicial authorities.
Ballots held in the first 10 years following the enactment of the constitution must be fully administered by members of judicial entities and authorities in accordance to law.
The Supreme Administrative Court is the entity in charge of receiving appeals pertinent to referenda, presidential and parliamentary elections, and their results. Appeals on municipal elections are filed at the Administrative Judiciary Court. The law designates the appeal dates. Rulings must be issued within 10 days after the appeal is registered.”
Proposed Amendments to the Constitution
The statement released by the House of Representatives indicated the main principles that the draft amendments aim to accomplish and classified them into seven sections.
Inclusive Political Representation
Support the representation of women in parliamentary chambers.
Support the representation of farmers and blue-collar labor in parliamentary chambers.
Support the representation of youths, Christians, expats, and the disabled in parliamentary chambers.
Political System Reform
The possibility to appoint one or more vice-presidents.
Amendment of the presidential term to become six instead of four, and formulation of required transitional rules.
The Judicial Authority
The articulation of a unified mechanism to appoint the chairpersons of judicial institutions, the Public Prosecutor, and the chief of the Supreme Constitutional Court.
The establishment of a supreme council for judicial joint affairs.
The Mission of the Armed Forces
The redefinition and solidification of the role of the Armed Forces.
The appointment of the Defense Minister must be first approved by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
Legal protection of key state institutions, and public facilities.
Electoral System Reform
The omission of the sentence on equivalent representation of voters as it incurred a conflict in practice, while abiding by the ruling of the Supreme Constitutional Court on the matter.
Foundation of the Senate
The introduction of articles that regulate the minimum number of members, candidacy requirements, its mission, and the ban of joint membership in both chambers of the parliament.
Press and Media Management
The omission of articles 212 and 213 on the National Media Authority, and the National Press Authority.
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