Egyptian President Sisi votes as polling begins in referendum to extend his presidential term

Reuters
Cairo, Egypt Published: Apr 20, 2019, 12:46 PM(IST)

An army soldier stands guard at a polling station, during the referendum on draft constitutional amendments, in Cairo, Egypt April 20, 2019 Photograph:( Reuters )

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Voting began on Saturday in Egypt because of the referendum proposed on constitutional amendments that would extend President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's rule.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi cast his vote on Saturday as polls opened in a referendum on constitutional amendments that would extend his rule.

Sisi cast his ballot at a polling station in the eastern Cairo suburb of Heliopolis, state television showed.

His supporters say the changes are necessary to give him more time to complete major development projects and economic reforms, but critics argue they concentrate more powers in Sisi's hands and return Egypt to an authoritarian model.

Egypt's 596-member parliament is dominated by Sisi's supporters and the changes are widely expected to pass.

The referendum bucks the trend of the region's mini-Arab Spring, in which mass pro-democracy protests this month swept away veteran presidents in Algeria and Sudan.

Sisi made his grab for power in the turbulent years after the original Arab Spring protests of 2011 toppled long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak, who was followed in office by Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Sisi overthrew Morsi in 2013 and the following year won his first term as president. He was re-elected in March 2018 with more than 97 per cent of the vote after standing virtually unopposed.

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