A woman casts her vote during the referendum on draft constitutional amendments, at a polling station in Cairo, Egypt, Apr. 20, 2019.
A woman casts her vote during the referendum on draft constitutional amendments, at a polling station in Cairo, Egypt, Apr. 20, 2019.

Egyptians are voting Saturday on constitutional amendments that allow Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi to stay in office until 2030. The voting comes less that a week after parliament approved the changes.

Expatriate Egyptians began voting Friday.

If passed, the amendments also would deepen presidential powers and military presence within communities. The presidential term would be increased from four to six years and Sissi would be allowed to run for a third term in 2024.

Supporters of the referendum have hailed the vote as a national duty, but critics charge that the vote is simply a power-grab in a country where political diversity has dissolved almost completely.

Organized opposition is almost nonexistent, with many leading public figures, businesses and media houses firmly in league with the current government.

Officials promised to announce the results by April 27 and say if the measure passes, they will implement the constitutional reforms swiftly.

Many of the amendments pertain to the government’s structure, creating new positions and increasing the number of presidential appointees. The Egyptian military, which already wields tremendous economic and political power in Egypt, also will increase its role in criminal justice, if the referendum passes.