Egypt is gearing up for a referendum to accept or reject new constitutional amendments that could prolong the presidency of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
On Tuesday lawmakers approved amendments to the constitution that would allow President al-Sisi to stay in power until 2034.
The amendments would also strengthen the role of the military in Egypt’s political system. It will also increase the president’s power over the judiciary.
531 MPs voted for the new changes while 22 voted against the amendments.
This is the second time the amendments are being put to a vote. The proposed changes will now be presented for a national referendum this year.
No date has been set yet for the national referendum but there are indications the changes could get a pass.
When the changes are backed in a referendum, al-Sisi “after the expiry of his current term, may run again” for the presidency.
In 2017 an Egyptian lawmaker, Ismail Nasreddine launched a campaign to extend presidential terms and lift restrictions on re-election.
The latest amendments are seen as the product of that campaign even before Sisi won the 2018 presidential election.
President Sisi in 2013 overthrew Mohammed Mursi, a Muslim Brotherhood official who was democratically elected as President.
That was facilitated by the 2013 mass protests against Mursi rule. He was elected president in 2014 for his first term.
In 2018 he was re-elected winning more than 97% of the vote in the election. The turnout in that election was more than 40% .
He did not face any serious challenger, after most strong candidates withdrew from the race. Sisi’s current tenure ends in 2022.