Egypt Voters Approve Referendum Extending President’s Rule

April 23, 2019 Updated: April 23, 2019

CAIRO—Voters in Egypt approved constitutional amendments allowing President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to remain in power until 2030, election officials said April 23.

Lasheen Ibrahim, the head of Egypt’s National Election Authority, told a news conference the amendments to the 2014 constitution were approved with 88.83% voting in favor, with a turnout of 44.33%. The nationwide referendum took place over three days, from April 20 through April 22 to maximize turnout. Egypt has some 61 million eligible voters.

In his first public comments on the amendments, el-Sissi thanked the Egyptian people for voting.

“Wonderful scene done by Egyptians who took part in the referendum… will be written down in our nation’s historical record,” he tweeted minutes after Ibrahim announced the results.

Sisi expressed his “appreciation and pride” on Twitter to the Egyptian people who he said had “dazzled the world with their awareness of the challenges” facing Egypt by participating in the referendum.

Generally, the amendments extend a president’s term in office from four to six years and allow for a maximum of two terms. But they also include a special article specific to el-Sissi that extends his current second four-year term to six years and allows him to run for another six-year term in 2024—potentially extending his rule until 2030.

The changes also allow the president to appoint top judges and include language declaring the military the “guardian and protector” of the Egyptian state, democracy, and the constitution, while granting military courts wider jurisdiction in trying civilians.

Parliament overwhelmingly approved the amendments last week, with only 22 no votes and one abstention from 554 lawmakers in attendance. The national electoral commission announced the following day that voting would begin April 20.

Sisi’s supporters say he has stabilized Egypt and needs more time to reform and develop the economy.

El-Sissi was elected president in 2014 and re-elected last year.

By Samy Magdy

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