FILE – The meeting of members of a parliamentary legislative committee, April 14, 2019 – Egypt Today/Khaled Mashaal
CAIRO -16 April 2019: As a parliamentary legislative subcommittee already approved a proposed set of constitutional amendments, a number of MPs who earlier voiced rejection of the amendments praised the societal dialogue that took place in the Parliament, hoping that more youth could be present.
The Parliament will likely give a final approval on the amendments on Tuesday. Subsequently, the National Elections Authority (NEA) will have to organize and announce a referendum on the amendments within 30 days. According to some reports, the referendum will take place during the next week.
The presence of former MP Mohamed Anwar al-Sadar, whose membership had been dropped, was a surprise, said Diaa Dawoud, a member of the Parliament's 25-30 opposition bloc, adding that his presence proved the that Parliament’s prior intention is to listen to all opinions, and that the Parliament has its own real and strong opposition.
Nadia Henry, a member of the same bloc, said that Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal allowed all the attendees, guests and parliamentarians, to express their opinions during the sessions, giving them appropriate time.
Henry said that she would prefer that more youth could participate, as the sessions have witnessed remarkable freedom of expression.
The opposition was fairly represented during the societal dialogue sessions, MP Mohamed al-Etmani said, adding that the opposition aimed, during the sessions, at presenting alternatives and suggestions.
The parliamentary legislative subcommittee, headed by Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal, approved on Sunday a set of proposed constitutional amendments paving the way for the Parliament to hold a final vote on them on Tuesday.
The societal dialogue sessions that took place earlier were concerned with listening to politicians, political parties, public figures, the civil society, businessmen, and financial and economic institutions.
The 10-member committee, which was concerned with writing the current constitution, thought at the time that four years is a short period for a presidential term. However, the committee approved it due to the past state of emergency and the war against the Muslim Brotherhood group, Abdel Aal said in March.
The amendment concerning extending the presidential term is just a proposal, Abdel Aal said, affirming that this dialogue around the amendments is serious and not for show.
He added that all categories of representatives were given the opportunity to express themselves, including judges, constitutional law, professors, Al-Azhar and the Church's representatives, and the heads of parties.
Even those who object to the amendments think that four years are a short period of time, he said, adding that according to his experience as a professor of law, and an author of legal books, presidential terms must have a limit.
"The amendments did not address a certain person, not even the current president," he stated.
Amending the constitution is considered the most important duty that the Parliament must be concerned with, Abdel Aal said, adding that such duty falls under his personal responsibility and the responsibility of others.