Sisi’s attempt to become the ‘eternal president of Egypt’ - YASIN AKTAY

Sisi’s attempt to become the ‘eternal president of Egypt’

Egypt is going through a process of constitutional change as the military regime increases its iron fist every other day. I would like to say here that “Egypt is discussing constitutional change,” but there is no room for any argument about any issue in Egypt if Sisi has already made his decision. There is a process in Egypt where every actor, from parliament to Constitutional Court, from the remaining media organs to the election board, is doing their part, meaning that their entire role in this process is just about formalities.

The constitutional change proposed is paving the path for the presidency for three terms and 6 years for each while the current limit is for two terms, with 4 years for each term. Thus the change will also mean Sisi’s current term will be extended for 2 years and that he will also be able to serve for two more terms, effectively giving him the opportunity to stay in power until 2034.

The constitutional change, for the first time in the country’s history, is giving the authority to the Egyptian army to protect the constitution and country’s stability when needed. This authority already existed in practice since 1952, but it hasn’t been based on the constitution until today. Thus, with this constitutional change, they are making sure to establish an absolute authority where the army won’t have to answer to anyone for all the crimes it committed, all the murders it carried out, as well as all the torture.

If there was any room left for Egyptians, whose country has entered into a great economic, social, and political crisis, to breathe, there won’t be any for them any more thanks to the great efforts of those who put Egypt in this position to increase their power.

All the names who announced their candidacy in last year’s presidential elections against Sisi were arrested regardless of their position, fame, and influence within the society.

One of those names, Ahmad Shafik, who also ran against Morsi, was forced to back off from the elections thanks to a Dubai-centered plot. Again, the former chief of command, Sami Annan, who would be the favorite candidate in a normal election, was arrested one day after he announced his candidacy. Immediately after that, the former President of the State Supervisory Council, Hisham Geneina, was subjected to a knife attack right after his name was mentioned as a possible candidate. He too was arrested after he held the security forces responsible for the attack. Later Abdel Munim Abul Futuh who was seen as the favorite candidate if he declared his candidacy was arrested after he criticized Sisi on Al Jazeera.

Thus, Sisi went to the elections without any opponent. Oh, there was one person who was directly nominated by Sisi so that the formal conditions for the elections could be met, and who cautioned people not to accidentally vote for him but for Sisi just like himself: Musa Mustafa Sisi. As you can recall, the elections resulted in Sisi’s victory, in which he garnered 99 percent of the votes.

Now, Sisi is opening ballots for constitutional change in such an environment where can pull off any result he wants, and no one sees any obstacle in his way. The only thing which may challenge Sisi would be the international community raising its voice against this nonsense. But, we are convinced now that nothing good can be expected from that international community. The leaders of the EU, who can’t even listen to discussions regarding capital punishment, visited and virtually congratulated Sisi by posing with him in Sharm El Sheikh after he unlawfully executed nine people based on the testimonies they gave after being tortured.

One of the reasons why Sisi has the audacity to make all these changes is his reasoning that today’s conjuncture in the world actually provides him with the conditions to make those changes. One of the questions raised in the “New Constitutional Changes in Egypt: Causes and Effects” panel held at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University Islam and Global Relations Center, where I was also one of the participants, is: Why is Sisi making such a move even though he previously promised many times that he is not going ask for such changes, especially extending the time limit? Does the timing of this move mean anything?

President of the Liberal Ghad el Thawra party of Egypt Eymen Nur had a striking answer tothis question:

“Sisi counts on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), Mohammed bin Zayed and Trump; for his coup, for his unlawful acts, and human rights violations. However, today, it seems that especially Trump in the U.S. and MBS in Saudi Arabia have no future because of the problems they are dealing with right now. He wants to guarantee his position before they are removed from power. In fact, he is also afraid of having to answer for all he has done after his term as president ends. He sees no other solution than making his leadership eternal in order to escape from that Day of Judgment.”

A constitution is a social contract. However in Egypt, during the process of writing or amending the constitution, the society is not included. The changes have no aim to benefit the people. The only purpose here is the autocratic government strengthening its position and making its rule permanent.

History repeats itself in the land of the Pharaohs, and the president who sees himself above everything else is forcing the limits of humanity and demanding a god-like position for himself.

The history of Egypt is also the history of the Pharaoh who saw himself in a god-like position when meeting Moses.


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