Reports say Egyptian opposition parties have formed a coalition against proposed changes to the constitution that would allow President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi to stay in office well beyond the end of his current term in 2022.

Egypt’s parliament has given its preliminary approval to the changes, after two-thirds of the general committee endorsed the proposed amendments on Tuesday.

The 596-seat assembly – which is packed with al-Sisi supporters – will take a final vote on February 17, but the amendments would also need to be put to a national referendum.

A senior leader in the opposition Karama, or Dignity party Abdel-Aziz el-Husseini said that 11 parties met the previous day and declared their opposition to the proposed changes.

He said the group established a “union for the defence of the constitution” that includes secular and left-leaning parties and lawmakers.

Khaled Dawood, another opposition leader and former head of the liberal Dostour or Constitution party, questioned the legitimacy of the process to amend the 2014 charter, citing a constitutional clause that bars extending the two-term limit.

Amending the constitution was widely expected as pro-government lawmakers and media figures have argued for years that the constitution is crippling the president’s efforts to advance the country, including overhauling its economy and defeating Islamic militants.

A draft of the proposed amendments shows concerted efforts by the pro-government “Supporting Egypt” coalition to consolidate al-Sisi’s power.

The 64-year-old leader could be allowed to run for a third and fourth six-year term, potentially extending his rule to 2034.

-News24