Egypt could follow China's lead and keep the current president in power for longer than the original term limit

Greg Baker – Pool/Getty ImagesEgypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi greets Chinese President Xi Jinping.
  • Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, who was re-elected without any real competition this week, may stay in power beyond his current term limits.
  • Sisi’s allies want to change the country’s constitution to allow Sisi to remain president past his current two-term limit.
  • The push is inspired by China’s moves to eliminate presidential term limits to keep Xi Jinping in power for life.

Freshly reelected Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi may stay in power beyond his current two-term limit if his allies follow through with plans to change the constitution in his favour, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Supporters of Sisi say they have been inspired by China’s recent moves to abolish presidential term limits in order to keep President Xi Jinping in office indefinitely.

“Let me tell you something, there’s no bigger country than China, and they just changed the constitution to give the president an open term, up to life,” Egyptian television host Imad Eddin Adib said last week.

“The constitution is not a sacred text,” lawmaker Ismail Nasreddin said, according to the Journal.

Nasreddin is a member of Sisi’s parliamentary bloc, and plans to put forth legislation to extend presidential terms from four to six years as the new government comes into session.

Other members of parliament have previously stated their support for plans to extend presidential term limits.

Alaa Abed, head of Egypt’s Human Rights Committee, called for amending the constitutional term limits in August, saying, “A four-year term is a very short period for the people to judge a president, not to mention that it does not serve stability in Egypt.”

“An election every four years in Egypt is highly costly both in security and financial terms,” he added.

Abed, along with other lawmakers, also support granting the president more powers, like appointing cabinet ministers without prior approval.

Opposition leaders say they will fight any legislation put forward to enhance the president’s powers, and have already made comparisons to previous dictators, like Hosni Mubarak, who remained in power for 30 years.

But the Egyptian government is largely made up of Sisi allies, who could easily facilitate the passing of any amendments to the country’s constitution to enhance the president’s current powers.

Sisi was voted in for a second term on Monday, sweeping 97% of the vote in a widely expected result. Sisi ran against just one other candidate, a Sisi supporter; all other opposition dropped out of the race or were put in jail.

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