Egyptian lawmakers approve 'Pharaoh motion' to extend Sisi presidency
Egyptian lawmakers have taken the first step towards enacting controversial changes to the constitution that could see President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi stay in power for an extra 12 years.
Parliment's general committee on Tuesday approved the so-called "Pharaoh motion" aimed at extending presidential term limits, The New Arab's Arabic-language service reported.
Citing a parliamentary source, the report said that the bill was approved by all but one lawmaker after a debate.
The motion hopes to lengthen presidential mandates to two six-year terms, which are currently limited to two four-year terms.
It could see Sisi stay in charge of the North African country until 2034 and is nearly certain to be adopted by the legislature, which is packed with Sisi supporters.
The amendments would also need to be put to a national referendum.
Prominent Egyptian opposition figures have rallied to reject the proposed amendments, which also include the introduction of the role of vice president and a revived senate.
"Project to amend Egypt constitution unfolding and in full throttle. Main features: extending presidential term limit, diminishing judicial independence and anointing military as the guardian of the state," tweeted former vice president Mohamed ElBaradei.
"Arab Spring in reverse!"
The left-wing Civil Democratic Movement coalition released a statement on Tuesday condemning the motion.
"The majority of us consider tampering with the constitution to be a crime and an attempt to derail the movement towards a modern civil democratic state," the statement said.
Human rights groups have accused Sisi of overseeing the largest crackdown on dissent seen in the Arab nation's modern history.
Sisi was elected in 2014, a year after leading the military's overthrow of an elected but divisive Islamist president.
He was re-elected last year after all potentially serious challengers were jailed or pressured to leave the race.