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Egypt - Government

Gamal Abdul Nasser19541970
Anwar as Sadat19701981
Hosni Mubarak19812011
Mohamed Tantawi20112012
Mohamed Morsi2012 2013
Adli Mansour2013 2014
Abdel Fattah el-Sisi2014

The 1971 Constitution

Egypt's political and administrative systems were one of the oldest in the world. Egypt overhauled its political and democratic systems with the purpose of deepening democracy, promoting freedoms, upholding law and advocating respect of human rights. Parliament was introduced to Egypt in 1824; and the Constitution in 1882. The Constitution of the Arab Republic of Egypt was promulgated on September 11, 1971 and amended on May 22, 1980, May 25, 2005 and March, 2007.

The Egyptian Constitution provided for a strong executive. Authority is vested in an elected president who can appoint one or more vice presidents, a prime minister, and a cabinet. The president's term runs for 6 years. Egypt's legislative body, the People's Assembly, had 454 members -- 444 popularly elected and 10 appointed by the president. The constitution reserved 50% of the assembly seats for "workers and peasants." The assembly sat for a 5-year term but can be dissolved earlier by the President. There also was a 264-member Shura (consultative) Council, in which 88 members were appointed and 174 elected for 6-year terms. Below the national level, authority was exercised by and through governors and mayors appointed by the central government and by popularly elected local councils.

Egypt's judicial system was based on European (primarily French) legal concepts and methods. Under the Mubarak government, the courts demonstrated increasing independence, and the principles of due process and judicial review gained greater respect. The legal code was derived largely from the Napoleonic Code. Marriage and personal status (family law) were primarily based on the religious law of the individual concerned, which for most Egyptians is Islamic Law (Sharia).

In the civil court system, there were criminal courts, civil courts, administrative courts, family courts and the Supreme Constitutional Court. There were three levels of regular criminal courts: primary courts; appeals courts; and the Court of Cassation, which represents the final stage of criminal or civil appeals. Civil courts heard civil cases and administrative courts heard cases contesting government actions or procedures; both systems had upper-level courts to hear appeals. The Supreme Constitutional Court hears challenges to the constitutionality of laws or verdicts in any of the courts.

The constitution provided for an independent judiciary, but in practice the judiciary was subject to executive influence and corruption. The president may invoke the Emergency Law to refer any criminal case to the emergency or military courts, in which the accused did not receive most of the constitutional protections of the civilian judicial system, and the government continued to use the Emergency Law to try non-security cases in these courts and to restrict many other basic rights. The constitution provided for the independence and immunity of judges and forbids interference by other authorities in the exercise of their judicial functions. The government generally respected judicial independence in non-political cases in civilian courts. Emergency courts, however, were not independent.

The president appointed all judges upon recommendation of the Higher Judicial Council, a constitutional body composed of senior judges. Judges receive tenure, limited only by mandatory retirement at age 70. Only the Higher Judicial Council may dismiss judges for cause, such as corruption. Headed by the president of the Court of Cassation, the council regulated judicial promotions and transfers.

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