Egyptians on Saturday voted in a referendum to accept or reject new constitutional amendments that could prolong the presidency of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Lawmakers approved amendments to the constitution that would allow President al-Sisi to stay in power until 2034.
But for the changes to be adopted, they had to be confirmed in a referendum by citizens.
The amendments would strengthen the role of the military in Egypt’s political system. It will also increase the president’s power over the judiciary.
There are indications the changes could get a pass in the referendum which means al-Sisi “after the expiry of his current term, may run again” for the presidency.
— Egypt Independent (@EgyIndependent) April 20, 2019
Sisi’s supporters have defended the changes saying they are necessary to give the president more time to govern.
But the president’s critics say giving more powers to Sisi would mean that Egypt returns o an authoritarian model.
In 2017 an Egyptian lawmaker, Ismail Nasreddine launched a campaign to extend presidential terms and lift restrictions on re-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.