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Egypt Referendum Backs Extending Sissi's Rule


Election workers count ballots at the end of a three-day vote of the referendum on constitutional amendments at a polling station in Cairo, Egypt, April 22, 2019.

VOA's Heather Murdock and Ed Yeranian in Cairo contributed to this report.

Nearly 90% of Egyptian voters have approved constitutional amendments that could extend President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's rule until 2030.

Egypt's National Electoral Commission head, Judge Lasheen Ibrahim Soliman Lasheen, on Tuesday announced the results of the country's three-day constitutional referendum. He said 27 million voters turned out to vote, or 44% of those eligible voters. Eighty-eight percent of those who cast valid ballots approved the changes.

Shortly after the results were announced, Sissi used Twitter to thank his fellow citizens "who dazzled the world with their awareness of the challenges facing" Egypt.

But opposition activists have accused Sissi's government of pressuring people to vote in its favor. They also accused the government of influencing voters by giving them food and offering rides to the polls.

Referendum on Extending Sissi's Rule in Egypt Passes
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The opposition said the changes would roll back the democratic dreams of 2011, when a popular uprising led to the ouster of 30-year dictator Hosni Mubarak, and that the referendum was marred by corruption and coercion.

Supporters said secure leadership will make Egypt safer and help the country climb out of economic crisis.

Lasheen said the constitutional changes will allow certain sectors of society, including women, Christians and farmers, among others, stronger representation in parliament, which will now be expanded to an upper and a lower chamber.

Amnesty International said the constitutional changes will “strengthen impunity for human rights violations by members of the security forces, furthering the climate of repression that already exists in the country.”

Sissi's government has denied all charges of suppression and rights violations.