News World Egyptians vote on changes that may see Sisi in power to 2030

Egyptians vote on changes that may see Sisi in power to 2030

Egyptians began voting on Saturday on constitutional changes that will potentially allow President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to stay in office until 2030 and bolster the role of Egypt’s powerful military.

Sisi‘s supporters say the changes are necessary to give him more time to complete major development projects and economic reforms. Critics say they concentrate more powers in Sisi‘s hands and return Egypt to an authoritarian model.

While the changes are widely expected to pass, observers say the size of the turnout will be watched as a test of Sisi‘s popularity, which has been dented by economic austerity measures since 2016.

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 control over appointing head judges and the public prosecutor from a pool of candidates. They would task the military with protecting “the constitution and democracy and the fundamental makeup of the country and its civil nature”.

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, who did not give his family name.

Opponents say the changes are being rushed through without proper public scrutiny. Officials say Egyptians from all walks of life were given a chance to debate the amendments, and that all views were factored into the final proposals.

“They are not giving us time to even organise a campaign to ask people to vote no,” said Khaled Dawoud, a member of the opposition Civil Democratic Movement.

“This is the final deathblow after all the ambitions we had after the 2011 revolution,” said Dawoud, referring to the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak after 30 years.

“GRAVE IMPLICATIONS”

Sisi came to power after spearheading, as defence minister, the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Mursi as president in 2013 in the turbulent years after the uprising.

He was elected as president a year later and won a second four-year term last year.

Under Sisi, Egypt has witnessed a crackdown on dissent that rights groups say is unprecedented in its recent history. Media and social media are tightly controlled.

Lina Khatib, head of Chatham House’s Middle East and North Africa Programme, said the amendments “pave the way for a power grab” by Sisi.

“This has grave implications for prospects of democracy in Egypt in the medium term and makes it difficult for alternative political voices to contest power in the long term,” she said.

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

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.

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

But despite banners urging Egyptians to participate in the referendum springing up in Cairo this month before the final version of the amendments was known or voted on by parliament, some people did not see the point.

“Vote? Vote for what?” asked a horse carriage driver sitting at a cafe in a working class Cairo neighbourhood.

“It won’t make a difference,” said the 67-year-old, who declined to give his name. “Leave it to God.”

(Reuters)

Top Stories

Turkey blocks Cyprus from joining UN disarmament forum as observer

Talks aimed at overcoming a years-long deadlock over disarmament at the United Nations began in acrimony on Tuesday with two countries blocking rivals from...

Police fine 132 for covid measures breach in past 24 hours

Police fined 128 citizens and 4 establishments all across Cyprus over the past 24 hours for violation of covid-19 measures aiming to curb the...

Cyprus and Saudi Arabia to immediately launch political consultations

Cyprus and Saudi Arabia will immediately launch a political dialogue between the two countries by convening the first meeting of counterpart foreign ministries in...

Number of cigarettes smoked doubles during island’s first lockdown – study

Almost one third of the population in Cyprus are smokers who doubled their daily number of cigarettes during the first coronavirus-related lockdown in March. This...

U.S. secretary of state nominee Blinken says Turkey not acting like an ally

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's choice for secretary of state has accused NATO member Turkey of not acting like an ally and said Washington would...

Taste

Squash soup

Ingredients: 1 kg pumpkin, cut into small cubes, approximately 5 cups 2 medium (400g) sweet potatoes, cut into cubes, approximately 2 ½ cups 1 chopped leek, only...

Mezedes

No visit to Cyprus is complete without enjoying the traditional meal of many small dishes known as ‘meze’. This large feast, which has been a...

Prawns with fried cheese, barley shaped pasta

Put the barley shaped pasta into a small pan with salted water, bring to a boil and when tender, drain. Peal the prawns leaving...

Salmon and shrimp sheftalies

Mix all ingredients for tabbouli in a bowl and keep to one side so flavours can combine. Prepare the sheftalies: wash and soak the casing...