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Egyptians Vote on Constitutional Amendments

Egyptians Vote on Constitutional Amendments

Saturday, 20 April, 2019 - 10:00
Egyptians queue to cast their vote in a referendum on constitutional amendments. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Egyptians began voting on Saturday in a referendum on constitutional amendments that would extend President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi’s term in office to 2030.

Sisi’s supporters say the changes are necessary to give him more time to complete major development projects and economic reforms.

If approved, the amendments would extend Sisi’s current term to six years from four and allow him to run again for a third six-year term in 2024. 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.

The referendum also proposes other changes to the five-year-old constitution, among them the creation of a second parliamentary chamber and a quota ensuring at least 25 percent of lawmakers are women.

Sisi cast his ballot at a voting station in Cairo’s eastern suburb of Heliopolis after polls opened at 0700 GMT.

Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly cast his ballot, saying that voting will reflect "the atmosphere of stability and democracy that we are witnessing now."

In Shubra, a working-class neighborhood of the capital, dozens of voters, mostly women carrying their children, queued outside a polling station in the local high school.

Troops as well as police provided security, an AFP photographer reported.

Taxi driver Essam backs the changes. “The country needs to be rebuilt. This referendum will give Sisi a chance to fix things,” said the 61-year-old.

Egypt’s 596-member parliament, dominated by Sisi’s supporters, approved the amendments on Tuesday, voting by 531 to 22 in favor.

Some 55 million of Egypt’s nearly 100 million population are eligible to vote in the referendum, which will be held over three days. The result is expected in the days after Monday’s final day of voting. Expatriates voted on Friday.

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

For the past few weeks, Egypt's streets have been awash with banners and billboards urging citizens to "do the right thing" and vote "Yes", while popular folk singers have also exhorted voters to go to the ballot box.

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