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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/10/19

Field Marshall el-Sisi of Egypt plans to stay in power until 2034

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Amid unprecedented crackdown on opposition, US Client President of Egypt, Field Marshal Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, plans to stay in power till 2034 by pushing constitutional changes.

el-Sisi came to power in June 2013, after he led the military to oust the first democratically-elected president Mohamed Morsi.

Amnesty International has warned that Egyptians are facing an unprecedented crackdown on freedom of expression under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's administration, saying the North African state has today turned into an "open-air prison" for dissidents.

Under the Sisi administration, "Egypt has been converted into an open-air prison for critics," Amnesty said in a statement on January 25, on the eve of the country's National Police Day, adding, "The space for dissent "is being crushed out of existence."

January 25 also marks the start of the 2011 revolution, which led to the ouster of former US client dictator, Hosni Mubarak.

"Today, it is more dangerous to openly criticize the government in Egypt than at any other time in the country's recent history," Najia Bounaim, Amnesty's North Africa Campaigns director said.

Amnesty further said Egyptian authorities had arrested at least 113 people in the course of 2018 for "peacefully expressing their views."

Not surprisingly, in recent months, speculation has been building that Sisi is seeking amendment to the constitution so that he can stay in power once his second term ends in 2022.

The changes include an extension of the presidential term from four years to six years in Article 40, and a "transitional" clause that would potentially allow Sisi to stay in power until 2034.

A 16-member opposition bloc in parliament held a press conference to condemn the proposed changes, saying they abolished the principal gain of the January 25, 2011 uprising, the changeover of civilian power.

One lawmaker, Haitham al-Hariri, slammed the proposals as a "coup against the Egyptian constitution."

"We were naive to think that they would only extend the presidential term limits," he said, referring to the plan to give the president new powers.

The proposed amendments also give the president new powers over appointing judges and the public prosecutor.

Some Egyptians have been angered by the draft amendments. They have taken to social media to slam the proposals.

The hashtag "No to changing the constitution" was the top trending topic on Twitter, with more than 26,000 tweets.

"The proposed amendments don't come as a surprise, they are a continuation of what we have seen ever since Sisi came to power, or a continued expansion of his powers as well as consolidation of that power," Timothy Kaldas of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy said.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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