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Egyptian Expatriates Begin Voting on Constitutional Amendments

Egyptian Expatriates Begin Voting on Constitutional Amendments

Friday, 19 April, 2019 - 05:15
A man walks in front of a banner depicting Egyptian President Sisi before the upcoming referendum on constitutional amendments in Cairo, Egypt April 16, 2019. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Egyptian expatriates began on Friday voting on a referendum on constitutional amendments that extend President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi’s term.

The vote running from April 20-22 was officially announced on Wednesday, a day after parliament overwhelmingly approved the changes extending presidential terms from four to six years.

The Foreign Ministry said that 140 voting stations have been set up in 124 countries. Every Egyptian expatriate, who holds a valid passport, has the right to vote in the referendum.

Some 9 million Egyptians reside abroad.

No official statistics are available about who is illegible to vote, but some 157,000 people voted in the 2018 presidential elections.

The amendments would prolong Sisi's current term to 2024 from 2022 and allow him to then run for another six-year term.

They would also grant the president new powers over the appointment of judicial officials, bolster the role of the military and create an upper parliamentary chamber.

Egypt’s 596-member parliament, which is dominated by Sisi supporters, voted 531 to 22 in favor of the amendments.

Sisi won his first term as president in 2014 and was re-elected in March 2018.

Egypt has been preparing for the referendum at the same time as parliament debated the amendments since the start of April.

Banners and billboards have gone up across the capital Cairo in the past weeks urging people to take part.

MP Mohamed Abu-Hamed, who pushed for the constitutional amendments to keep Sisi in power, is adamant the changes are needed to allow the president to complete political and economic reforms.

Sisi "took important political, economic and security measures... (and) must continue with his reforms", in the face of the unrest gripping neighboring countries, the deputy told AFP.

Other constitutional amendments include a quota for women's representation of no less than 25 percent in parliament and forming a second parliamentary chamber.

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