Sisi between referendum and Constitutional Court

As the parliament decides on the legislative authority’s position regarding the 2016 maritime borders demarcation agreement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, it becomes clear that it supports the deal against the judiciary opposing the situation.

Behind the position of the judicial authority opposing the agreement, there are great powers which the regime and the ruling elite know very well. These powers are not only related to the positions taken by the majority of the political parties, civil society and former prominent leaders of the army, such as Shafik and Annan; above all, there strong popular opposition to the agreement, to which the executive and legislative powers are trying to turn a blind eye.

Despite the near-final steps, which have been taken recently, there are high hopes to withdraw from the agreement. The agreement has been badly managed by the authorities from the beginning, since it was suddenly announced in April 2016, that the speaker of the parliament and certain other MPs would lead or market the deal in parliament. The authorities demonstrated their unjustified position in the courts, to defend the agreement and challenge the provisions of the law for the protection of state land, dignity, and honor.

We say there is still hope because there are two important things that can be called upon for more time: the first is a public referendum and the second is the ruling of the Supreme Constitutional Court.

The first is stipulated by Article 151 of the constitution: “The President of the Republic shall represent the state in its foreign relations; and conclude treaties and ratify them after the approval of the House of Representatives. Such treaties shall acquire the force of law following their publication in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.

Voters must be called for referendum on the treaties related to making peace and alliances, and those related to the rights of sovereignty. Such treaties shall only be ratified after the announcement of their approval in the referendum.

In all cases, no treaty may be concluded “which is contrary to the provisions of the constitution or which results in ceding any part of state territories.”

The second, and more important point, is to wait for the ruling of the Supreme Constitutional Court, and the definitive decisions in cases brought before the courts to resolve the matter of the two islands or the dispute between the authorities over them.

We all know that the deposed president Hosni Mubarak, despite his compulsion, could not stand against the Constitutional Court provisions in all matters. We all remember that the court undermined four parliaments and forced him to dissolve two of them in 1984 and 1987.

The problem will be more complicated and will make the government’s management of the crisis worsen, if the president ratified the agreement before the referendum or before the ruling of the Constitutional Court, especially as the latter is tasked with settling disputes betw­een state authorities.

The question now is: Why the hurry? The two islands have remained under the sovereignty of Egypt for decades, and why not wait for some more weeks? This may help the regime absolve itself from the sin of abandoning the homeland.

Is satisfying Saudi Arabia more important than satisfying the Egyptian citizen, especially as we are heading for presidential elections? Does Egypt forget the many repercussions it has been exposed to by Saudi Arabia over the last period which witnessed a great chill in relations between the two countries; with one of those repercussions the cutting of Aramco oil to Egypt?

Is there anyone who can guarantee the implementation of the April 2016 agreement signed between Saudi Arabia and Egypt after all these concessions? And more importantly, is there any compensation for Egypt’s loss of this important strategic location in the Gulf of Aqaba and undermining its national security?

The question remains for parliamentarians who have agreed to the agreement: What would you have done to the Muslim Brotherhood if the ousted president Mohamed Morsi gave up the two islands to Saudi Arabia or any other inch of the homeland?

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