CAIRO - 8 April 2019: Charles San Pro, General Director of the Observatory of geopolitical studies of Paris, jurist and author of a treaty on the constitutional evolution of Egypt, published in 2014 by Karthala editions wrote an article in Le Point, a French weekly political and news magazine published in Paris, France expressing her view point of why President Abd Al Fattah Al Sisi had to reform the constitution.
Find below the full article, originally published by Le Point
Egypt: why Abdel Fattah al-Sissi had to reform the Constitution
By: Charles San Pro
ANALYSIS. Approved by Egyptian parliamentarians since February 14, the draft constitutional revision will be submitted to a referendum. Its adoption will extend the term of presidential terms of Abdel Fattah al-Sissi.
Was the reform that led to this constitutional revision inevitable? Yes, given the current challenges facing the country. Re-elected in March 2018 for a second four-year term, President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi wants to amend several articles of the Constitution adopted in 2014. The revision envisaged concerns a dozen articles and the modifications are intended in particular to guarantee a better representation. parliamentary women (with a quota of 25%), young people, Christians and Egyptians from the diaspora. The project also provides for the return to bicameralism with the creation of a second chamber in Parliament. Finally, the draft amendment includes two articles to extend the presidential term of office from four to six years for two successive terms, allowing the current president to stand for twelve years at the end of his current term. It is this issue that receives the attention of foreign media and is debated.
A continuation of the return of the presidential regime
Legally speaking, this evolution is not as shocking as the detractors of Egyptian power would like to say. Indeed, the 2014 Constitution was already characterized by a return to the presidential regime. Such a regime implies the right to be elected and re-elected without limitation if a popular majority is available. This system has long been in force in the United States (Franklin Delano Roosevelt was re-elected three times, between 1936 and 1944), and was in France until 2008. In addition, with regard to the Egypt, the project does not plan to go back to the principle of the two-term limitation of presidential terms, but concerns the extension of their duration and provides for a derogation concerning the current president: the counters will be reset once the revision is adopted by referendum.
An arrangement that can be understood
Egypt needs stability and continuity to face many challenges, security and economic. The current provisions on the length of the presidential term were not appropriate to the country's circumstances. Egypt is not Switzerland or Norway, it has to face serious events, especially in Sinai, and in this context, the army remains the main solid and unifying institution. This is why the constitutional revision introduces the principle that the army is "the defender and guarantor of democracy and civil status". This provision complements the preamble of the 2014 Constitution which emphasized "the place of the army in national life". The memory of the disorders and weakening of the state caused by the coming to power of the Muslim Brotherhood, between 2012 and 2013, remains a perennial trauma.
The terrorist risk, the volatility of the regional situation, marked in particular by the crisis in Libya, and the considerable economic problems mean that Egypt can not possibly do without a strong regime. The authorities' priority is to maintain a high growth rate of more than 5%. They must feed, educate, treat and create opportunities for a population of nearly 100 million, which could double by 2050. Every 10 years, the country gains 25 million inhabitants. Since 2014, the Egyptian authorities have initiated voluntary and courageous reforms. Overhaul of the subsidy system of basic necessities and energy, untouchable for sixty years, restoration of macroeconomic fundamentals (foreign exchange reserves, fallen to 13 billion dollars in 2013, now reach 45 billion, a level never known), made possible by the devaluation of the pound, educational reform. At the same time, they launched major projects that will transform the face of the country: the doubling of the Suez Canal, which will double the revenues linked to maritime traffic, the construction of a new administrative capital and 13 new towns. , and the exploitation of gas in the eastern Mediterranean, with the giant field of Zohr.
The measures decided by the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi are beginning to bear fruit. The country expects growth of more than 6% in 2019 (one of the strongest on the African continent), unemployment has reached its lowest level since 2010, according to the IMF. Egypt has become the leading destination for foreign investment in Africa, capturing 40% of continental flows. But these reforms, to fully produce their effects, suppose to fit into the long time ...