Will Sisi rule Egypt for life?

Analysts say that Sisi’s second term will see constitutional changes that will expand his powers.

Abdel Fattah El-Sisi
Sisi won 97 percent of the votes in presidential election that was criticised for having no credible opposition [File: The Associated Press]

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is expected to focus on solidifying his grip on power during his second term as president, analysts say.

Sisi won presidential elections with 97 percent of the votes in an election that was criticised as being a one-man show with no credible opposition, as at least six other candidates were forced to pull out, prosecuted, or jailed.

Mamdouh Munir, Director of the International Institute for Political Science believes that Sisi will focus on consolidating his rule before trying to improve the country in order to “eliminate all dissent within the state”.

Amending the constitution to expand the president’s powers will be on top of Sisi’s agenda. The president had previously expressed on several occasions his reservations about the constitution, saying it was written under “exceptional circumstances”.

He was referring to when the constitution was changed in 2014 to limit the president’s power, following the military-backed removal of power against then President Mohamed Morsi a year earlier.

The amendment stipulated that a prime minister, elected by the parliament, will share some powers and responsibilities with the president.

But according to sources from the 25-30 Alliance parliamentary bloc, Sisi will not be satisfied until he has full control of the executive branch as “there are indications within the parliament that he is going to amend the constitution to give him absolute powers”, similar to how it was during President Hosni Mubarak‘s time.

“Sisi’s priority is to ensure the survival of his regime,” Munir said.

“He will escape forward, relying on politics of fear by fighting terrorism, and perhaps even starting a foreign war to justify the expansion of his powers internally.”

Lifelong rule

Munir predicts Sisi to amend the constitution in ways that allow him to rule for life and strip away the protection of the defence minister.

The current constitution protects the defence minister from being sacked by the president directly, an amendment that was made to the constitution in 2013 to protect Sisi when he held that position.

But according to sources from parliament, an amendment to reverse that is now being considered to allow the president to exempt the current minister of defence Sedki Sobhi.

Sisi has isolated a number of senior officials that were part of the 2013 coup, including Mahmoud Hijazi, the former chief of staff of the Armed Forces.

It is expected that he will agree to US’ peace deal to ensure the “US administration and Israel keep him in power,” Munir told Al Jazeera.

At any cost

Masoum Marzouk, former ambassador and politician, believes that “nothing is clear” at the moment, but he expects a few amendments to be made.

“Parliament members have already submitted proposals for the duration of the presidency, which could be amended to six years and possibly open the number of terms a president can run for,” Marzouk said.

The former ambassador said Sisi will most likely continue to apply the IMF’s “recipe”, which means “that inflation will explode”.

Education will not be a priority for Sisi, said Marzouk, but “there is talk of an ambitious health insurance project.”

Mustafa Abdulsalam, an economic journalist, believes that Sisi will increase taxes starting from July, to collect tax revenues of about $43bn in the next fiscal year, an increase of more than $8bn from the current fiscal year.

The new taxes will result in a huge rise in prices, as small businesses – such as kiosks and small restaurants – will pay the price of the tax increase.

Sisi’s strategy is “to stay in power at all costs, even if the people reject him”, Munir said.

Source: Al Jazeera