Sisi circumvents the constitution to control the supervisory state apparatuses

On Tuesday, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi appointed General Amr Adel as acting head of the Administrative Control Authority, succeeding General Hassan Abdel Shafy, who reached retirement age. Adel was selected as the “acting” head instead of being appointed directly as a head of the authority, although he had worked as a deputy’s head since 2019. Abdel Shafy and his predecessor, General Sherif Seif Eddin, had also been “acting” heads. This pattern puts a question mark on the cause of appointing “acting” heads without giving anyone the entire job.

According to chapter 11 of the Egyptian constitution, four supervisory apparatuses in Egypt should enjoy independence from the executive authority or the government, the Central Bank of Egypt, Central Auditing Organization, Administrative Control Authority, and Financial Regulatory Authority. Article 216 of the constitution provides that the president appoints the heads of those institutions, but the parliament must approve the appointments. The directors have four years period that can renew but cannot dismiss during the period without a legal cause or parliamentary approval. Appointing “actors” instead of incumbent heads gives the president absolute control over the independent and supervisory apparatuses that financially hold him and his government accountable and keep governmental corruption in check.

When Genina was overthrown

Encroaching the constitutional immunity of the supervisory apparatuses started in 2015, just one year after Sisi took office, when a statement of the head of the Central Auditing Organization, Hesham Genina, broke the ground. Genina said corruption cost Egypt 600 billion pounds in 2015 only. Then, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi toppled Genina without a parliamentary review using law 89 of 2015 that Sisi issued in the absence of the parliament. According to the law, the president is authorized to upset the head of any supervisory apparatus in 4 cases: disrupting state security, losing status, losing a condition of eligibility, and breaching the job duties. Unequivocally, such loose conditions were designed to circumvent constitutional immunity, providing the president with absolute authority.

Genina was not just toppled but was further prosecuted by the Supreme State Security Prosecution, the Egyptian government’s judicial organ, to prosecute political opponents. He was later sentenced to suspended 1-year imprisonment in mid-2017. This incident presented a threat against any upcoming official that he could be charged in case of disclosing any information against the government.

The “acting” pattern

What happens with the Administrative Control Authority, where Sisi keeps his authority over the institution by appointing “acting” heads which can easily remove, is a pattern used with the other sensitive institutions. Last August, Sisi nominated Mohamed Farid, the former chairman of the Egyptian Stock Exchange Market as a 1-year acting manager of the Financial Regulatory Authority, which is assigned to review all financial deals and financial markets in Egypt. Likewise, the same pattern was used for the Central Bank of Egypt, where Sisi called the parliament to overthrow the former governor, Tarek Amer, and replaced him with an “acting” governor, Hussein Abdullah, whom Sisi could remove any time without a parliamentary review. This attitude aligns with the absolute authoritarianism Sisi has built up since he took office in 2014. This system allows corruption to go on systematically without oversight and independent institutions that can keep crime in check.