Cairo: Egyptian parliament on Thursday initially approved proposed constitutional amendments, which will allow President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi to rule beyond his current term in office.
The assembly overwhelmingly voted for the proposed changes, a step clearing the way for the parliament’s Constitutional Committee to thoroughly vet the amendments before they are put up for a final vote in two months’ time.
Some 485 lawmakers at the 596-member legislature voted in favour of the 'principle' of amending some articles in the constitution, Speaker of Parliament Ali Abdul Aaal said.
The approval capped a two-day debate by the parliament.
The proposals, sponsored by the pro-state Egypt support bloc in the legislature, includes extending the presidential term to six years instead of four, appointing at least one vice president and reviving the upper house of the parliament. The current constitution has a two-term cap for the head of the state.
The amendments also include a provisional article that makes it possible for Al Sisi to run for president after his current tenure ends in 2022.
The changes must be endorsed by two-thirds of the legislature where Al Sissi’s backers wield the majority. The changes cannot become a law before they are adopted in a referendum expected to be held in April.
The current constitution was adopted in 2014, a year after Al Sisi led the army's overthrow of Islamist president Mohammad Mursi following enormous street protests against his rule.
Al Sissi was overwhelmingly re-elected for a second four-year term in office in 2018. He is credited with waging a relentless anti-terrorism war that has largely restored stability to Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country.
He has launched a series of mega-projects aimed at reviving the country’s economy battered by the turmoil that followed a 2011 uprising and an upsurge in militant attacks.