CAIRO: Egyptian voters have overwhelmingly backed constitutional changes that could see President Abdel Fattah al Sisi’s rule extended to 2030, the electoral board said on Tuesday.
National Election Authority head Lashin Ibrahim told a Cairo press conference that 88.83 percent voted “yes” in a referendum on the amendments, with 11.17 percent voting “no”.
The three-day vote took place “in a democratic climate powered by freedom”, he added.
Rights groups have criticised the conditions surrounding the rushed vote, including the suppression of those opposing the sweeping changes that consolidate Sisi’s power.
Parliament, stacked with Sisi loyalists, voted in favour of the constitutional amendments last week.
Voters were given less than a week to digest the changes to 20 articles, which include allowing the 64-year-old leader to run for another six-year term after his current term ends.
His term was originally scheduled to end in 2022, but has now been extended to 2024.
Other controversial amendments include boosting Sisi’s control over the judiciary and giving the military even greater influence in political life.
The Egyptian leader won his first term as president in 2014, a year after he led the army in overthrowing elected president Mohamed Morsi following mass protests against his single turbulent year in power.
Standing virtually unopposed after the disqualification or withdrawal of all realistic challengers, he was re-elected in March last year with 97 percent votes.
The referendum also proposed other changes to the five-year-old constitution, among them the creation of a second parliamentary chamber.
Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2019