Egypt’s parliament has overwhelmingly approved proposed constitutional changes that would allow Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to potentially stay in office until 2034.
The changes, which must be approved by a referendum to enter into force, would also further authority of the Armed Forces in “maintaining the foundations of the civil state.”
Egypts parliament, which has 596 members, saw 485 votes in favor of the changes. The body is largely made up of supporters of the president. According to The Associated Press, the amendments will be submitted to a committee to finalize the language, then parliament will vote again.
Egyptian human rights groups are expressing alarm. Eleven groups signed a statementsaying that the amendments “effectively serve to destroy the constitutional separation of powers, concentrating all authority into the presidents hands and solidifying his authoritarian rule.”
In 2013, then-Defense Minister El-Sissi led a coup against Egypts first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, following mass popular protests against him. Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, was in office for one polarizing year.
Since then, el-Sissi has launched an unprecedented crackdown on dissent, and rights groups say he has jailed tens of thousands of his political opponents (though he deniesthat Egypt has any political prisoners). He was elected to a second term in 2018, in a race where “six potential candidates were either jailed or dropped out,” as NPRs Jane Arraf reported.
According to Egypts constitution, passed in 2014 after the coup, this term should be his last.
“The President of the Republic shall be elected for a period of four calendar years,” the constitution currently reads. “The President may only be reelected once.”
The amendments would also strengthen the presidents power over the judiciary. For example, it would allow him to appoint the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, the prosecutor general, and other senior position.
Proponents of the changes say they are necessary for Egypts stability.
According to Mada Masr, earlier this month as the proposed amendments were submitted, parliamentary speaker Ali Abdel Aal said: “We are not restricting any of the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, and we are not touching the principle of equality between Egyptians in regards to rights and obligations. …These amendments serve the Egyptian people and the higher interests of the state.”
But for opponents, such as the human rights groups, its another nail in the coffin for Egyptian hopes for democracy following the 2011 ouster of dictator Hosni Mubarak.
“Not only do these individually-tailored provisions flout fundamental legal precepts, they also upend the peaceful rotation of power championed by the Egyptian people in 2011 to prevent another decades-long dictatorial rule similar to that of former President Hosni Mubarak, toppled after 30 years in power,” the groups said.
British Prime Minister to resign
British Prime Minister Theresa May has said she will quit as Conservative leader on 7 June, paving the way for a contest to decide a new prime minister. In an emotional statement in Downing Street, Mrs. May said she had “done my best” to honor the 2016 EU referendum result.
It would remain a matter of “deep regret” that she had been unable to deliver Brexit, she added.
May will not leave office immediately. She will step aside as leader of the Conservative Party on June 7, which will trigger a leadership contest to replace her on June 10. But she will stay on as prime minister until her successor is selected.
A new prime minister was “in the best interests of the country,” May said in a statement in front of London’s 10 Downing Street. “It is and always will remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit.”
The countdown to May’s departure began the moment she brought back the Brexit deal negotiated with the EU late last year, which both her party and the opposition Labour Party hated. When she put the deal before Parliament in January, MPs defeated it by a stunning margin of 230 votes — the largest defeat for a prime minister in modern British history.
May failed again on the second attempt in March. Before making her third attempt, she tried a new tactic to get her deal passed: promising to resign if it succeeded. Conservatives who disliked her more than they disliked her deal went along with it, but May still couldn’t muster the votes to pass the plan that would take the UK out of the EU.
The political stalemate forced her to twice seek an extension of the original March 29 Brexit deadline to avoid a no-deal Brexit. That new deadline is now set for October 31, 2019, months after the original departure date.
Lagos governor-elect promises to run transparent government
The Governor-elect of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has pledged to be more transparent and accountable to Lagos citizens when he assumes office. Sanwo-Olu, who said this during a media briefing in Lagos yesterday, pledged to institute a quarterly interactive session on the state’s budget in order to give Lagosians updates and progress report on public expenditure.
The incoming governor also vowed to make the environment more conducive to attract foreign investments into the state. Responding to a question on how to make the budget transparent and procurement open, he said: “The state government still publicizes its budget on a year-on-year basis. We intend to continue, but beyond that, we would also do a quarterly review of our budget performance so that people can ask questions and we are accountable.
“In terms of transparency, we have a procurement law and we have a procurement agency. It is important for people to access them more. The ones that need to be published in terms of who gets the procurement, we would do it if it is not currently being done.”
He added: “So we would let people know on a quarterly basis how you are running your budget and how well you are doing and issues around transparency reduce.”
Commenting on his intention to ensure that increased foreign investments are attracted to Lagos state, Sanwo-Olu added: “Investments are just moving around and if you don’t take them and the opportunities, they move to some other jurisdiction. That is because money is always moving around the world.
Osinbajo charges outgoing governors on public service
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo Thursday urged outgoing governors not to see their exit from power as an opportunity to run personal businesses or sleeping for long hours.
Instead, they should see their exit from power as another opportunity to further serve the country in various capacities, using their influence, for instance, to contribute to healthcare and education.
Osinbajo said at a valedictory session of the National Economic Council (NEC) in Abuja that donor agencies would be glad to work with some of the outgoing governors, especially those with records of accomplishment of healthcare provision and other humanitarian needs.
Membership of the NEC, statutorily chaired by the vice-president, comprises governors of the 36 states of the federation and select federal government officials.
The vice-president, who thanked the governors for the encomiums showered on him by various speakers at the meeting, said of Nigeria’s population of about 200 million, only 74 persons, comprising the president, vice-president, 36 governors, and their deputies, were given the responsibilities of formulating policies and executing projects to improve people’s living conditions.
He sought more commitment from the governors to better the lots of the citizenry.
According to him, having led their various states for some years, the governors do not need anyone to advise them any longer on the imperative of unity or security of lives and property just as he identified the availability of food and water as the main priorities of citizens.
However, the vice-president lamented that most people dissipate energy to stoke the embers of disunity and ethnicity, advising the governors to condemn those who engage in such acts and resist them because the country does not belong to them only.
He reiterated the need for the outgoing governors to be challenged by the enormity of problems at stake and consequently use their influence as former governors, when the time comes, to contribute to continued efforts to address such problems.
He said: “In the next few years, our population will double with the attendant challenges of jobs, education, healthcare, security, and infrastructure. Every nation that has moved its people from misery to prosperity has depended heavily in fact almost completely on the political elite. Our people have nowhere else to look or to go, it is as they say, at the collective table that the buck stops.
“I should advise that you should use your influence and reach to the advantage of Nigerian people. You have seen and heard for yourselves the enormity of our national problems. Very few people have the advantage to see closely as we do, the issues that concern our country – issues that even concern our different states. We here have that unique advantage. So, I think that we can help in one way or the other; we can do something in our states and other states in a way of advocacy or action on education and healthcare in particular, and jobs.
Abiodun assures Ogun people of good governance
Ogun State Governor-elect Prince Dapo Abiodun on Thursday pledged to “submit himself to the will of the people and agenda of the state” when sworn-in on May 29 next week as next executive governor.
Abiodun also assured that he would be “humble” in governance, saying since “humility” has taken him far in life, there would be no reason to change when he is in power.
The successful entrepreneur and oil magnate gave the assurance in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, in an apparent response to the remarks by Nigerian businessman and politician, Afolabi Adeola, during Abiodun’s pre-inauguration lecture.
Adeola, who was the chairman of the occasion, had lamented that politicians while seeking the people’s votes, always wear the garb of humility and which tends to make the citizens have a feeling of a new dawn.
But, he said once such politicians were elected and sworn-in, the whole thing turned to an illusion.
The co-founders of Guaranty Trust Bank(GTB) said Abiodun ran a difficult race and emerged victorious, advising him not to toe the path of others, who would set up committee after committee only to treat the recommendations of such committees with disdain.
He also advised the governor-elect to “submit himself” and his “cronies” to the agenda of the state and interest of the people.
However, Abiodun said that his administration would be different.