US aid cut to Egypt 'puts brakes' on calls to extend Sisi's term in office
The United States' decision to cut aid to Egypt over human rights concerns has further hindered a proposal to extend Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's term in office.
The Trump administration this week cut nearly $300 million in military and economic aid to Egypt, impeding calls to amend the constitution to extend Sisi's term by two years, parliamentary sources told The New Arab.
A lawmaker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Washington's surprise move against Cairo would put the brakes on any discussions within parliament to extend the four-year term the president serves in office.
The source said that the Egyptian authorities had misjudged the ramifications of passing a law in May that will severely restrict the work of non-governmental organisations.
Egypt has reacted angrily to the cut in aid, with the Foreign Ministry calling the US decision a "misjudgement of the nature of the strategic relations that have bound the two countries for decades."
Trump told Sisi on Friday that he wants to strengthen ties with Cairo.
In a phone call, Trump promised to continue to "develop" the two countries' relationship in order to "overcome any obstacles", the Egyptian presidency said in a statement.
Sisi has less than one year left in his first term and has yet to announce whether he is running for a second term, but he is widely expected to do so in June 2018.
Calls for extending the presidential term are led by lawmakers from a pro-government bloc, which says four years "has not been long enough" to allow Sisi to implement his plans to revive the economy and crush an insurgency.
The proposed constitutional change has been met with opposition from political commentators, including in pro-government local media, who accuse the president of moving towards a dictatorship.
Veteran diplomat Amr Moussa, the head of the panel that drafted Egypt's 2014 constitution, has denounced calls to amend the charter.
"Renewed talk about amending the constitution in a presidential election year raises questions about the maturity of political thought behind it," Moussa said in a carefully-worded statement.