“Is the Constitution supposed to be laid down with ill intentions?” he wondered, adding that demanding a constitutional amendment before applying the existing constitution is “illogical”. According to Abdel-Razek, the current Constitution, like those since 1952, has failed to curb presidential powers.
Remarks by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on parliamentary powers enshrined in the Constitution have triggered a debate among politicians and commentators about the presidency’s intention to induce a constitutional change granting it leverage against the anticipated parliament.
“The Constitution, with good intentions, is giving vast powers to the parliament. Countries cannot be managed by good intentions alone,” Sisi said in his speech at the Suez Canal University on Sunday, a few weeks before the long-awaited elections for the House of Representatives on October 18.
Politicians have differed on the implications of the president’s remarks, particularly considerng his opponents havepromoted the idea that his government was not interested in a parliament entitled to share its currently unchallenged legislative authority.
Hussein Abdel-Razek, deputy chairman of the leftist Tagammu Party, labelled the statement as “weird”.
But Mostafa Bakry, a former MP, a journalist and an ardent backer of Sisi’s presidency, said that a constitutional amendment would restore authority denied to the president by the existing Constitution. “Egypt is not qualified for a mixed presidential-parliamentary system of government, nor for a parliamentary one and changes ought to be made in favor of presidential powers,” Bakry stated. “The current situation makes the president a passive actor in the executive authority.”
Bakry denied rumors that the amendment seeks to extend the current constitutional stipulation on the presidency’s tenure, currently set at four years renewable by four more years.
“It is all about a desire to amend the chapter on the president’s authority because the current Constitution gives the parliament and the prime minister executive powers above those of the president’s.”
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm